Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame

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, bar tending 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. Karlyn also is the oldest person to set and hold an NCAA DIVII record when at the age of 35 she accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend California State University Bakersfield (CSUB) and won three individual national titles (100 and 200-yard backstroke, 400-yard medley) and set an NCAA DIVII record in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:00.54. While at CSUB, Karlyn made the Dean’s list every quarter and graduated from CSUB Cum Laude with a degree in Communications and Public Relations in 1999.

After Bakersfield, Karlyn returned to San Diego and from 1999-2003 worked at Girl Scouts San Diego developing innovative sports programs for a membership of over 32,000 girls and leaders.

Karlyn is professional speaker offering both inspirational and technical talks, and is a three-time presenter at the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) World Clinic. As a writer, from 2007-2012 Karlyn penned a monthly column entitled The Pool’s Edge in Swimming World Magazine, has been a contributor to SWIMMER Magazine and West Hawaii Today newspaper.

Karlyn’s swimming technique is so efficient that Go Swim Productions created two instructional videos using her as the model. Go Swim Freestyle and Go Swim All-Strokes with Karlyn Pipes is available on Amazon. 

When not traveling, teaching and speaking, Karlyn lives in Kona, Hawaii and trains with the Kona Dolphin (youth) swim team. To contact Karlyn, email karlynpipes@gmail.com


Records and Accomplishments

Records and Accomplishments

Masters Swimming Accomplishments

International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) class of 2015

In 2017 Karlyn has set 10 FINA Masters World and 20 USMS National records for the 55-59 age-group

Broke SIX FINA Masters World records for 55-59 age-group in Europe January 2017

Broke FOUR FINA Masters World records for the 55-59 age-group in San Diego July 2017

Voted TOP TEN Masters swimmer of All-Time by Swimming World Magazine

Inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) class of 2007

Has set 229 FINA Masters world records to date

Has set over 352 U.S. Masters National records to date

Currently hold 28 FINA Masters World and 64 U.S. Masters National records (as of July 2016)

Karlyn is a versatile swimmer setting FINA World and US National Records in every stroke

Karlyn’s records stand the test of time spanning SIX age-groups: 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49,50-54 & 55-59

8 USMS Long Distance Records for 35-39 & 40-44 (3,000 yd., 6,000 yd, 5k & 1-hour postal)

2012 World Masters Swimmer of the Year voted by Swimming World Magazine

2009, 2008, 2007 & 2004 World Masters Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine

Female U.S. Masters Swimmer of the Year 1997, 2002& 2003

Top Ten Masters Swimmer of the Year 1994 to 1998, 2000, 2002 & 2003 

611 time USMS All-American achieved by earning #1 national ranking in an event

18-time USMS All-Star achieved by earning the most #1 rankings in an age-group in a year

Cover of SWIM Magazine April 2005, February 1998 and September 1995

Cover of Fitness Swimmer Magazine, October 1997


Collegiate and USA Swimming 

Swam for Cal State Bakersfield on a full-athletic scholarship in 1998 at age 35

NCAA Division II record holder in 200-yard backstroke from 1998 to 2001 with a time of 2:00.54

Oldest athlete to set and/or hold an NCAA record at the age of 35 in 1998

Won three events at NCAA Division II championships 100/200 back, 400 medley 1998

8 time NCAA Div. II All-American for CSUB 

Set 4 National Community College and 5 State Community College records in 1996-1997

Set 12 Palomar College school records and two-time Student-Athlete of the year 1996-97

2-time Pacific College Conference Swimmer of the Year

San Diego Hall of Champions Amateur Star of the Month 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 & 2002

A USA National Qualifier 1995-2000 and 2004 (placing 10th 200 back in both 1996 and 1998)


Triathlon and Aquathlon

Bronze medalist at the 2013 ITU World Aquathlon (1k swim, 5k run) Championships, London, UK

Three-time 50-54 age-group winner at Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance Triathlon 2013/14/15

2nd female overall at the Hilo Olympic distance triathlon 2014

2012 USAT Aquathon (1.5k swim, 10k run) National Champion


Open-Water Swimming

First woman (at age 55) and fifth OVERALL at the Cinco de Mayo Splash, May 2017

Fifth place OVERALL at the 2016 Hapuna Rough Water Swim at age 54

Overall Winner-Kukio Blue Water 1.2 mile swim 2004 & 2006 and overall female winner 2004 to 2008, 2011

Top female, 2nd overall& new course record Hapuna RWS 2004-2010 (Hawaii)

Top female & new course record for the 1.2 King Swim, July 10th 2004, 2008 (Hawaii)

2004 Maui Channel Swim Overall Winning Team RCP Milers (Hawaii)

Overall Winner for the 2004 Cinco De Mayo Splash 1-mile swims at Waikoloa (Hawaii)

2nd female and 12th finisher overall and division winner La Jolla Gatorman 3 mile 2003

1st Female 40-44 age group and 2nd overall 2003 USMS National 3k champs, Clemson, SC

Overall winner of Coronado Optimist One-mile Cable swim from 1995-2003

1999 5k Open-water USMS National Champion for 35-39 age group, Catalina Island

3-time overall (female) winner of the Gatorman 3-mile at La Jolla 1993, 1994 & 1996

Only swimmer to win “Daily-Double” Gatorman 3-mile/one mile swim combo 1994 & 1996

La Jolla Rough Water One-mile Swim Champion for 30-34 & 35-39 from 1994 to 2001

Overall (female) winner Coronado 4th of July Rough Water swim from 1994-2001

Overall winner & course record holder for Base-to-Base Military Swim from 1994-1998