Ep 027: Karlyn Pipes – Do-Over Queen and Swimming Champion Shows Us True Recovery Success
In June of 2015, Karlyn reached the pinnacle of her swimming career when at the age of 53 she was inducted into the prestigious International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) joining all-time swimming greats such as Janet Evans, Mark Spitz and Johnny Weissmuller in this prestigious recognition. Only twelve people per year are inducted and are selected from all of the aquatic sports including swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, open water, coaching and pioneer contributors. Since its inception, only 14 Masters swimmers have been honored.
What makes Karlyn’s induction truly incredible is not the long list of records and accomplishments she accumulated to qualify for the honor: it’s the circuitous, near-death journey she took to get there.
Karlyn grew up in Chula Vista, CA and as a youth swam for Coronado Navy Swim Association (CNSA) and was coached by two-time Olympic gold medalist Mike Troy. Karlyn was a standout swimmer winning the National Junior Olympics at the age of 15. Based on her speed, talent, and ability, she was on a fast track to swimming stardom with the potential of making an Olympic team.
Karlyn graduated from Coronado High School in 1980 and accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas. By 1982, her party lifestyle cost her the scholarship and she returned to Coronado where for the next 11 years she gradually spiraled downward making poor choices and falling into an unhealthy lifestyle that revolved around the local bar scene. Excessive drinking influenced every aspect of Karlyn’s life and consequently she was frequently fired from waitressing, bartending and lifeguarding jobs. She also attempted to return to college numerous time, but always ended up dropping out after only a few short weeks. Karlyn’s life was in a complete free-fall and hitting rock-bottom appeared to be the only sure thing.
In 1993 at the age of 31, Karlyn found the courage to turn her life around and returned to the source that created both pleasure and pain in her life…the water. The rest is aquatic history…and a book. The Do-Over, My Journey from the Depths of Addiction to World Champion Swimmer was published in late 2015. Available on Amazon.
To date, Karlyn has established over 214 FINA Masters World records, 332 U.S. Masters National records and in 2012 was voted as one of the Top-Ten masters swimmers of all-time by Swimming World Magazine.
Karlyn has broken FINA Masters world records in all four strokes, the medley and in every distance. Her records stand the test of time and span over twenty-five years and five age groups.
However, one of her greatest accomplishments is becoming a recovered alcoholic.
Karlyn Pipes joins me today for an amazing show where we talk about her book, The Do-Over, and her incredible life’s story that inspired her to write.
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