Swimming star admits 100mph on A14

OLYMPIC swimmer Karen Pickering has narrowly escaped a driving ban after being caught doing 100mph on the A14.Pickering, 33, who represented Britain in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and is the most decorated female swimmer, was warned she came close to losing her licence.

OLYMPIC swimmer Karen Pickering has narrowly escaped a driving ban after being caught doing 100mph on the A14.

Pickering, 33, who represented Britain in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and is the most decorated female swimmer, was warned she came close to losing her licence.

But she was told that her need to attend sporting activities and her role in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London had led magistrates to agree not to take away her licence.

Magistrates in Ely heard that Pickering, who was awarded the MBE in June 1994, was driving back from a swimming race in Coventry when she was caught by a speed camera travelling at 100mph in a 70mph limit on the A14 at Ellington, in Cambridgeshire, just after noon on Sunday, May 1.

She had been taking part in a freestyle race in the Midland District Championships for her Ipswich-based club.

Pickering, of Anglesea Road, Ipswich, who admitted speeding, was returning to support Ipswich Town Football Club at a lunch followed by a game for the Youth Football Training Academy.

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The court heard that she would normally set the cruise control to 70mph on her BMW Mini Cooper, which was supplied by a sponsor. But on this occasion she had not and, although she knew her speed was a little over the limit, she did not think it was so high.

Magistrates were told that Pickering, who also competed in the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000, drove up to 16,000 miles a year for her swimming and sponsorship work.

Mitigating Brinley Jones said: “She has never been in any trouble before but is in a spot of bother for this. I would ask you to take into account the services she has given to her country and that should balance things at this stage.”

He added that as Director of the British Olympic Society, Chairman of the British Athletics Association, a member of the Eastern Region Sports Committee and Sport Ambassador for Ipswich she has a packed diary of events over the next few weeks.

She is due to attend a Sport England event and a British Olympic meeting in London, chair the Athletes Annual Conference in Cardiff and attend a meeting in Glasgow.

“She needs her car to get around to sports clubs within a 10 mile radius of Ipswich where public transport is not very good,” Mr Jones told the court.

“For the services this lady has given to this country and the need for her licence over the next couple of months or so, I would ask you not to disqualify her on this occasion.

“She starts her swimming training at 6am every morning and lives one and a half miles from where she trains. It is not good for a woman to be walking through darkened streets with no public transport available.”

The court was told that since retiring from national swimming, Pickering had lost her sponsorship income and now expected to earn up to £2,000 a month.

She said: “My work is self-employed and my income is sporadic. The work I do for Ipswich council as an ambassador in sport and for Sport England is part-time. My appearances and some of my talks are paid.”

Chairman of the Magistrates, Alan Williams, told her: “You have a very outstanding record in terms of representing the country, nevertheless that does not excuse the excessive speed you were travelling on the A14. I really must remind you that the A14 is an exceedingly dangerous road.

“You came within a very short margin of being disqualified. But taking into account the fact that you take part in a lot of activities and the fact that we are moving towards preparation for the Olympic Games in 2012, which will involve a lot of travelling, we are not going to disqualify you.

She was fined £250 with £35 costs and five points were endorsed on her licence.

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