During her 20 year international career Karen won 35 major championship medals and 38 National titles despite breaking her back in a car accident in 1996. She was 4 times World champion, broke 2 World Records and competed at 4 consecutive Olympic Games.

Since her retirement from competitive swimming in 2005 Karen has become a popular motivational & after dinner speaker and commentates for BBC 5 Live & Channel 4 on swimming (able bodied & disability) diving & open water swimming.

In 2013 Karen founded her charity The Karen Pickering SWIM Foundation to run alongside her swim schools in order that she can offer bursaries to those who might otherwise be unable to afford swimming lessons.

She is also passionate about giving elite athletes a voice and is a past Chair of the British Athletes Commission as well sitting on the executive boards of the English Institute of Sport & the BOA-Athlete Commission.