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Shelley Taylor-Smith

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Shelley Taylor-Smith
Personal information
Born (1961-08-03) 3 August 1961 (age 62)
Perth, Western Australia
Medal record
Women's Open water swimming
Representing Australia
FINA World Aquatics Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Perth Open water 25 km
Bronze medal – third place 1994 Rome Open water 25 km

Shelley Taylor-Smith (born 3 August 1961) is a former Australian long-distance swimmer.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Taylor-Smith suffered from scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, throughout her school years. The condition required her to wear a back brace, although she was successful in national age group swimming competitions. While on a swimming scholarship to the University of Arkansas in the United States, the heavy training regime caused a lower-body paralysis. During her recovery, her coach noticed that her swimming improved at greater distances, and encouraged her to take up marathon swimming, a sport which would also allow her to avoid potentially back-damaging tumble turns.[1]

Taylor-Smith's first major achievement was breaking the world four-mile record in 1983. Subsequently, she won the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim five times, breaking the world record in 1995 for swimming the 48 km distance in five hours, 45 minutes and 25 seconds.[2] She also won the Australian Marathon Swimming Championships three times, and seven consecutive FINA Marathon World Cups. She won a gold medal in the inaugural open water swimming event at the 1991 World Aquatics Championships in Perth, and a bronze at the 1994 Championships in Rome.[3]

Her autobiography, Dangerous When Wet: The Shelley Taylor-Smith Story (ISBN 1864480750) was published in 1996.[4]

In 1998, Taylor-Smith was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome after prolonged exposure to polluted water and Giardia lamblia infection, and was given six months to live. She nonetheless went on to win her fifth consecutive Manhattan Island marathon, and then retired from swimming.

Taylor-Smith currently lives in Perth, where she works as a motivational speaker for her company, Champion Mindset.

In 1997, Transperth named a ferry the MV Shelley Taylor-Smith.[5]

See also



  1. ^ The Competitive Ocean Archived 14 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Sports Factor (Radio National), 5 June 1998.
  2. ^ Blair, Cynthia: It Happened In New York Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Newsday, 14 July 1995.
  3. ^ Clark, David (2002). ABC Australian Sports Almanac. Sydney: Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-74064-056-5.
  4. ^ Dangerous when wet: The Shelley Taylor-Smith story, Amazon.com.
  5. ^ New Perth ferry to be named after Shelley Taylor-Smith Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine Premier of Western Australia 18 August 1997