Karen Pickering, MBE OLY

1. When you were at Brighton & Hove High School, and what is your fondest memory of school?
I was at the School from 1983 to 1989. My favourite memories are going to see Betty in the basement for a chat when things were hard. Going halves on a KitKat or Dairy Milk at break, 10p per person! Playing hockey on a sloping pitch and having a lovely group of friends.

2. Who was your favourite teacher and why?
Miss Garlic because she made History fun & interesting. Miss Olejnik because I loved all sport and being part of the school teams!

3. What were the benefits of being in an all-girls school?
I moved from a mixed school where I felt some lessons were biased towards boys to a school where we all just picked the subjects that were best for us. No preferential treatment and no pre-conceived ideas about which subjects we would do.

4. What did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
An Olympic swimmer. I even told the teacher that in my school interview.

5. What do you do now, and what are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
I am Head of Swimming at Ardingly College and commentate for BBC 5 Live on swimming. I have also just qualified as a Mortgage Advisor.
For the first role I enjoy being able to get the best out of the pupils no matter what level they want to swim at and I it makes me feel good seeing the children excited for their lessons. For the senior swim squad it is tough trying to manage their academic programme and other commitments alongside their swimming.
When I am commentating it is a privilege to watch the greatest swimmers in the world in action and I love being part of the BBC team. Pronouncing all the swimmers’ names correctly can be challenging and making sure I know who is in what lane and remembering their stats!
The mortgage advisor role is new, but along with advising generally on mortgages I hope to be able to help young athletes plan to be able to get on the property ladder. The fluctuating market will make things tough for them (and everyone) but I want to be able to help.

6. What are you most proud of so far?
My success in the pool despite breaking my back halfway through my swimming career. And being a mum to amazing and lively identical twin girls. I’m a single mum so sometimes just surviving the day has been tough!

7. What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at Brighton?
To have resilience and dig deep when things aren’t going well and that you can be whatever you want to be.

8. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Take the time to appreciate successes and the opportunities I was given rather than always rushing straight on to the next goal. Sometimes you must stop and pat yourself on the back!

9. What book, film or piece of music would you recommend to your younger self and to your fellow alumnae?
Greg Lemond: The Incredible Comeback by Samuel Abt & my favourite book which is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10. How would you like to be remembered?
As a good friend and team-mate and someone you can rely on.