Karen Thompson - Elite Performer
I have been involved in the sport of synchronised swimming since 1984, when I joined Bristol Central Swimming Club. After just a year I was selected to represent England in solo, duet and team event. This was the start of a 10 year International career as a synchro swimmer, taking me many places around the world and along the way picking up many national medals and titles.
I attended many different level/open international events and multiple European Championships as a junior/senior athlete and World Cups/Championships/Olympic qualification as a senior athlete. My best international results were gaining a silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 1990, placing 8th at the FINA 1995 World Cup Championships in the duet event and 4th at the European Championships in the duet and team.
I was also lucky enough to be nominated as the team captain for a number of years and led the team to high level competitions such as Worlds, Europeans and Olympic qualification, which was a tremendous honour.
One of my most memorable moments was receiving the National Synchronised Swimmer of the Year Award to standing ovation at the National Championships in 1995, awarded just before I retired as an elite athlete and took up the coaching mantle.
Karen Thorpe (nee Thompson) - Exceptional Contribution
After just a few years of coaching my athletes were the top junior solo and duet in the country, this stepped me into my first International Coaching role, assistant coach at the World Championships 1998 and subsequently I continued working internationally over two decades.
Although international coaching is exciting travelling many places around the world, my heart is coaching locally, which I still do as a volunteer coach and have done since 1994. In my time as a club coach I worked from starters to elite, I coached at times 30 hours a week alongside a full time job working with 100s of athletes over the years, of which approximately 25 to 30 athletes progressed to England/GB representation and more than 20 national titles for the club.
For over 18 years, alongside my coaching role, I have been a volunteer committee member for the club and at times regional and national committees.
I am passionate about the sport, I am dedicated to sharing the positive effects sport brings, particularly for young athletes, who are predominantly girls. Seeing ex-athletes, who were from all walks of life within the local area, thriving and giving back to sport or putting to use the skills they have learnt is extremely important to me.