Leopard Profile: Karen Romo
Though La Verne swimmer Karen Romo will make her last collegiate appearance at the SCIAC Championships, she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
For the thirty-something wife and mother of two, a new chapter beckons. Already having obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology, she’s set her sights on earning a master’s in school psychology. And she’s not necessarily saying goodbye to the pool.
“It may be my last collegiate competition, but it may not be my last time swimming competitively,” she said. “I may take up masters swimming after I earn my master’s degree.
Romo has truly mastered the art of multi-tasking. In addition to her time with the Leopard program, she routinely reprises her role as a full-time wife and mother to two children.
She credits her husband, Tony, for helping her continue her swimming career while working toward reaching her academic goals. “He encouraged me to go back to school, and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue it without him.”
Romo was a budding star in her native South Africa, setting several national age group records. She earned a spot on the South African National High School Team and was well on her way to securing a spot on the Olympic team, as she set her sights on the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. But for her, life is what happened when busy making other plans.
She stepped away from competitive swimming and focused on a family.
With a husband and two children, Romo decided to further her education and landed at Chaffey College. There, she decided to resurrect her swim career. Eventually, her academic and athletic journey would reach La Verne.
Though her recent stint in the pool is a much different scene than the world class level she competed at in her younger days, she has a fond appreciation for the athletes and the coaching staff. “I respect all athletes at all levels,” she says. “With Pat (Skehan) as the coach, La Verne swimming will be doing some special things in the coming years, and I’m proud to say I was a part of it at the very beginning.”
Despite still recovering from a recent shoulder surgery, Romo said she’s enjoyed her time with the Leopard swim program though her times this season have been impacted from the injury. In her time with the Leopards, she has made a lasting presence on her teammates and her head coach.
“Having someone like Karen is great because of her experience and her knowledge and maturity,” said Skehan. “Our athletes have watched her balance her life with swimming, school and family, which puts things in proper perspective.”
I think it’s awesome that she’s been with us,” said teammate Jaycee Halford. “She has really inspired us all. She’s been a very positive role model and she has motivated us to do the best we can. Since she juggles her swimming with school along with her family, we know we can’t complain too much about obstacles we have.”
Regardless of the outcome at the SCIAC Championships, Romo has cherished her time at La Verne and the Leopard swim program. “It’s been a fun and exciting experience,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed this season and I’ve enjoyed representing the University of La Verne.”