Karen Pickering MBE Profile


Karen Pickering’s achievements are quite remarkable. She represented Britain at a senior level for 20 years during which time she won more major championship medals for Britain than any other female swimmer and won the most Commonwealth medals for England of any female athlete in any sport. She was also the first British female swimmer to win a World Championship title when she took gold in the 200m freestyle in 1993. 

Karen made her international debut in 1986 and went on to win an incredible 35 Major Championship medals & 38 National Titles. She was four times World Champion, won 14 European Championship medals, and 13 Commonwealth Games medals including 4 Gold. The 2002 Commonwealth Games saw Karen gain two gold and a silver medal in front of her home crowd, a career highlight that was crowned when she was given the honour of carrying the English flag at the Closing Ceremony. 

Her career has been an eventful one. As well as an amazing medal haul she has twice held a World Record, she competed at four consecutive Olympic Games, which few athletes in any sport have done and in 1994 she was awarded an MBE for services to swimming. Since her retirement from international swimming in 2005, Karen has become regular member of the BBC 5 Live & Channel 4 commentary teams cevering swimming (able bodied & disability), diving & open water swimming. She is Chair of the British Athletes Commission and on the executive boards of the English Institute of Sport & the BOA-Athletes Commission. 

Karen is also very much in demand as a motivational and after dinner speaker and is a popular choice for hosting events. Drawing on a vast career, Karen is able to deliver messages drawing parallels between the sporting and business worlds. She understands the importance of a balance between individual and team performance and is able to adapt presentations to suit client’s needs. A humorous, poignant and inspirational speaker, Karen’s views will motivate and inspire any audience. 

One of Karen’s proudest achievements since retiring is founding the Splash Awards, an annual black tie event that recognises and celebrates the achievements of elite swimmers (able bodied & disabled), divers, waterpolo players and synchronised swimmers.

Most recently Karen launched her own charity, The Karen pickering SWIM Foundation, to run alongside her swim schools to help tose who might otherwise be unable to afford to have lessons.
Her swim schools, Karen Pickering SWIM, cater for all age groups and abilities as well as offering a consultancy service to teams and athletes in other sports who want to improve their cross training, recovery or injury rehabilitation work.

Karen is an ASA level 2 swimming teacher and has been developing bespoke swim programmes for celebrities & elite athletes from a range of sports for the past 8 years.


Date of Birth: 19 December 1971
Nationality: British
Height: 1.77m (5ft10in)


2001 GOLD World Championships
2001 SILVER World Championships
2000 GOLD World Championships
2000 BRONZE World Championships
1999 GOLD World Championships
1999 SILVER World Championships
1993 GOLD World Championships
1993 BRONZE World Championships