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Book Shelley

Open Water Swimming Mastery


"Shelley Taylor-Smith is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and probably one of Australia's most unsung heroes."

Alan Jones AO, Leading Radio Broadcaster

WA Women's Hall of Fame

WA Women's Hall of Fame "THE POWER OF 100" March, 2011

Shelley Taylor-Smith on was one of the 100 WA women inducted into the Hall of Fame. As a worthy inductee, Shelley Taylor-Smith’s amazing journey has now joined the ranks of fellow inductees such as Edith Cowan, Dame Judith Parker, Margaret Court, Fiona Wood and Liz Davenport who impart a powerful legacy to the leaders in our nation.

The WA Women's Hall of Fame was conceived as a mechanism for the recognition of extraordinary WA women. The inductees are successful in their field of endeavour; they contribute to the wider community and economy. And they have overcome hardship along the way. Importantly, it will tell their stories to a wide audience and over time provide inspiration to the leaders of tomorrow.

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day the centenary celebrations were kicked off with a gala ceremony to induct 100 of WA's most courageous and inspiring women into the inaugural hall of fame at the Perth Entertainment Centre.


50 Iconic Australian Women

Shelley Taylor-Smith was named amongst “The 50 Iconic Australian Women”* by the Governor General, Quentin Bryce on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day at the centenary celebrations at Government House in Canberra on 8th March 2011.

“The 50 Iconic Australian Women” featured in “Women’s Words of Wisdom” book by Karen Phillips and launched by the Governor General on IWD in Canberra at a morning tea followed by a gala cocktail party that evening at Government House in Canberra.

*and one of only four (4) Western Australian women named.


Inspirational... Dedicated... Passionate... Patriotic... 100% Australian.

Shelley Taylor-Smith is one of the greatest athletes in the world. She has rewritten the record books, and has set new standards in marathon swimming with her record seven consecutive world titles - a feat that has never been repeated.

From 1984 to 1997, Shelley achieved consecutive victories against the best men in the sport worldwide and in 1991 gained the No.1 World Ranking in Marathon Swimming for both men & women - the first time this had ever been achieved by woman - and to date the last!

"You do not have to be a swimmer to understand the power of Shelley Taylor-Smith. Her insight and passion are obvious, but the fact is, Shelley wanted to make the world better, both on an individual basis and on a global basis. A woman ahead of her time, her legacy, where she beat her male competitors so consistently, led to equal prize money for both men and women in the sport."

Steven Munatones, USA. Founder of and Editor-in-Chief, Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

As a young girl Shelley had a dream - to be like her role model Shane Gould and win a gold medal. Despite most of her school years in a back brace and spending three months in traction with partial paralysis when only 23 years old, Shelley never let go of her dream. Her coach told her "Do you know, you have the potential to be a World Marathon Swimming Champion?"

Shelley took up marathon swimming because it didn't require her to make those back bending tumble turns and has since achieved what no other woman has in sport.

In 1998 Shelley was told she had six months to live. While swimming in polluted water she had picked up deadly parasites and giardia. The infections had manifested as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and she was warned that if she continued to push herself her system would completely fail and she would die. Six months later Shelley won the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim for a record fifth time and only then did she decide to retire from representing Australia.

Shelley's 'winner's attitude' and her motto: "If you don't quit - you will make it" translates into her everyday life and now she empowers others by sharing with them her greatest asset - The Champion Mindset - training our leaders of tomorrow to think and be Champions today!

Shelley is as dedicated out of the water as she is in it. Her charity work includes: Vice Patron of Life Education NSW and her 2 favourite youth charities - the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and Youth Off the Streets - to which she donates ALL profits from sales of her books.

"Shelley's passion for life is as intense as her passion for swimming."

Laurie Lawrence

“Listen to raving fan, Eva Fabian, Women’s FINA World 5km OWS Champion”

15% of all profits of sales of “Dangerous When Wet” goes to the Esther Foundation

Let the Readers Speak...

Her greatest honours personally have been:

  • International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Honoree 2008
  • The Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award 2005
  • Two-time finalist 1990 & 1991 for Western Australia in the Australian of the Year Award
  • This Is Your Life recipient 1999 &
  • International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee

Shelley's achievements include:

  •  7 consecutive Women's No1. Marathon Swimming Ranking
  • 1991 World No.1 Ranking in Marathon Swimming (overall for both men & women)
  • 15 World Race Records
  • 4 World Championship 25km gold medals
  • 4 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship 25km gold medals.

In her 15yrs of International competition she has been awarded:

  • 4 times World and Australian Long Distance Swimmer of the Year
  • Australian Female Athlete of the Year
  • Guinness Book of World Records for fastest time overall in New York's 48km Manhattan Island swim & her epic swim Sydney - Wollongong 79km record swim (smashing the record by more than 15 hours)

"No matter where you are in your life or sporting career this book will give you the kick in the butt to never give up on yourself."

Janet Evans, 4-time Olympic Gold Medallist, Legendary American World Record Holder 400m, 800m & 1500m Freestyle, Businesswoman & Mother.

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  • Perth, Western Australia, Australia 3rd August 1961


  • Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges
  • National Dean's List of USA
  • The College of Education Dean's List USA
  • Gamma Beta Phi Honour Society
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Honour Society


  • Honorary Secretary FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWSC)
  • Australia Day Ambassador
  • Ambassador: Youth Off The Streets & Humpty Dumpty Foundation
  • Vice-Patron of Life Education (NSW)
  • Patron of Western Australian Open Water Swimming Association
  • Patron of Rottnest Channel Swimming Association
  • Clean Up Australia Day Spokesperson
  • Chairperson FINA Athletes Commission (1998-2000)
  • FINA Athletes Representative (1989-2000)


  • Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Medal 2002
  • Australian Sports Medal Recipient 2000
  • 'MV Shelley Taylor-Smith' Ferry, Perth Western Australia
  • Advance Australia Award
  • Australian of the Year Finalist 1989 & 1991
  • Australian Female Athlete of the Year 1991
  • World Long Distance/Open Water Swimmer of the Year 1988-1994
  • Australian Long Distance/Open Water Swimmer of Year 1991, 1993, 1997
  • Induction into USA Amateur Sports Hall of Fame

Swimming Career:

  • Women's World No.1 Marathon Swimming Champion Seven Consecutive Years: 1988-1995 (accumulation from competing an average of 10-12 races per World Series Calendar and each race ranging from 30-90km)
  • World No.1 Ranking Marathon Swimming Champion 1991 (for both men and women)
  • Fifteen World Race Records 1983 - present
  • 51 First places in International Marathon Swimming Competitions (including 9 first places overall)
  • 2 World Championship 25km Gold Medals & 2 World Championships 25km Team Gold Medals
  • 2 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship Gold Medals  & 2 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship 25km Team Gold Medals
  • First Western Australian English Channel Crossing, England-France 1990
  • English Channel Triple Crossing Relay 1997
  • Australian Women's National Open Water Swimming Champion - Nine years National 25km Champion
  • 5 time Winner (overall) New York's Annual Manhattan Island 48km Marathon Swim
  • Guinness Book of World Records - Fastest time ever Manhattan Island (48km) and Sydney to Wollongong (79km)


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