Karen Crossman competed for the Kent County YMCA, St. Mary’s Academy-Bayview, Little Rhody Aquatic Club and Providence College, excelling at each level. She established herself as a successful age group swimmer at the Kent County YMCA where she earned the team’s Swimmer of the Year Award in 1981, 1982 and 1 983 and won numerous state age group and New England YMCA titles.

As a representative of the Little Rhody Aquatic Club, Karen’s talents in the backstroke events continued to develop. In 1986, she ranked first in U.S. Swimming’s New England rankings in the 100 meter backstroke. In 1987, Karen competed at the National Junior Olympics in the 100 yard and 100 meter backstroke events.

Karen’s accomplishments were further enhanced while competing for Bay View where she was named to the Rhode Island Interscholastic Coaches All-State team in the 100 yard backstroke for four consecutive years and was also a member of the 200 medley relay team that earned All-State honors. She was the state of Rhode Island’s best backstroker from 1984 to 1987 and was the state record holder in the 100 yard backstroke. As a senior at Bay View, Karen was Outstanding Senior Swimmer at the Bay View Invitational. Most impressive, however, was that in 1986, she was a member of the 200 yard medley relay team that was named to the National Interscholastic Prep School All American team and in 1987, she earned individual All American honors in the 100 yard backstroke.

Under John O’Neill’s tutelage at Providence College, Karen continued to improve and was a remarkably consistent contributor to the team. In each of her four years at Providence, she was a finalist in both the 100 yard and 200 yard backstroke events at the New England Intercollegiate Championship, the Big East Conference Championship and National Catholic Championship. In 1988, Karen became only the second female swimmer at Providence to win a Big East title when she captured the 100 yard backstroke, which earned her First Team All-Conference honors. When she graduated, Karen was third on Providence’s all-time scoring list.