Nicknamed Queen Shelley, she won the inaugural FINA World Swimming Championship 25 km in Australia in 1990 and held the professional women’s No.1 world ranking from 1988 to 1995. She set and still holds the world record for the 48 km (28.5-mile) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and several professional marathon swims around the world. She earned an unprecedented overall No.1 world ranking on the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation circuit for both men and women in 1991 - a feat that has never been accomplished by any other woman in any other athletic endeavor going up head-to-head against men.
Alan Jones says, "Shelley Taylor-Smith is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and probably one of Australia's most unsung heroes."
"Shelley's passion for life is as intense as her passion for swimming." - Laurie Lawrence
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 achievements include:
- 7 consecutive Women's No. 1 Marathon Swimming Rankings
- 1991 World No.1 Ranking in Marathon Swimming (overall for both men and women)
- 15 World Marathon Swim Records
- 4 World Championship 25K gold medals
- 4 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship 25K gold medals
In her 15 years 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 48K Manhattan Island swim
- Guinness Book of World Records for her epic swim Sydney - Wollongong 79K record swim (smashing the record by more than 15 hours)
- 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
She has also been awarded:
- As a two-time finalist in the Australian of the Year Award
- This Is Your Life recipient
- The Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award
- 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)
Shelley founded Champion Mindset® Consulting that works with small businesses and individuals to achieve success and peak performance removing the blockages that stop people from achieving.
Creating Champion Mindsets and empowering people to become Champions in their own world is Shelley’s biggest passion and life mission. She has worked with major corporations through to long term unemployed and Olympic athletes. The common link with these extreme groups is often a loss of focus, not knowing what they want and a belief that you have to be one of the lucky few to be a Champion and have the life you have always dreamed of.
Shelley teaches first-hand her passion for open water swimming and can turn your love-hate relationship around so you too will be the Master of your next Open water swimming competition. She provides:
- OWS Clinics from Beginners to Advanced in corporation with Swimming WA
- Come and be race ready for your next event, Novice or Ironman with OWS Clinics for TRIATHLETES
- Group Squad Coaching for the 2011 Rottnest Channel 20km Solos & Duos. A fifteen (15) week program beginning 2010
- Personalized and interactive Online Coaching Programs including the Rottnest Channel 15 week training programs and individually ‘Taylor-Made’ programs for English Channel marathon swimmers
- Individual and group swim stroke and technique instruction (by appointment). Contact Shelley directly at email@example.com
- Need help with your next competition then “Pick Shelley’s Brain” (available through skype)
- Perform at your best with 1on1 Champion Mindset Coaching
Dangerous When Wet – The Shelley Taylor-Smith Story ($29.95). 15% of all profits of sales of “Dangerous When Wet” goes to the Esther Foundation
This riveting story of Shelley's rise to success is uncompromising, spirited, and straight from the heart. A must read for anyone who is struggling with motivation...the perfect read for open water swimmers of all levels. Learn how to absolutely love the solitary nature of the sport and develop the "man-against-nature" mindset which is the key essential to becoming successful in the open-water swim element of your next triathlon.
Delve into Shelley's greatest asset, "the most important 6 inches of your body - the distance between your ears" and the ability to get into your own mind, swim your own race and get in control of your own life. Learn how to turn your love-hate relationship for open water around and overcome your greatest competitor - yourself!
2012 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year Nomination
Annette Kellerman. Mercedes Gleitze. Gertrude Ederle. Carol Zaleski. Sandy Neilson-Bell. Penny Lee Dean. Shelley Taylor-Smith follows along the trail-blazing path of these powerfully influential women who worked tirelessly to promote and support opportunities for swimming by both genders. Sitting as the lone woman in various FINA committees and boards dominated by powerful men, Taylor-Smith has succeeded behind the scenes in steering the course in a practical, reasonable and objective manner. Always staying true to the needs and desires of the athletes, the former 7-time world professional marathon swimming champion focuses on improving and professionalizing the sport even though her influence is not always visible to the fans or known to the media. It is not acclamation, self-fame or fortune that she seeks; her goal is the ultimate betterment of the sport. For her tireless, unseen and often under-appreciated efforts to improve the procedures, protocols and policies of open water swimming, for her unceasingly and refreshing unselfish attitude to help athletes of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, for her pioneering role as the first female referee in the Olympic marathon swim at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Shelley Taylor-Smith is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
- Champion Mindset Twitter feed by Shelley Taylor-Smith
- Champion Mindset
- Open Water Swimming Mastery
- The Champion Mindset Of Shelley Taylor-Smith
- Open Water Swimming website
- 2012 Olympic Marathon Swimming 10km Coverage
- Open Water Is Not An Old Mission At Mission Viejo
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Shelley Taylor-Smith, Pioneering Administrator
- Everyday Heroes Swimming Breast In The West
- A Flashback On A Life Started With A Back Brace
- Dangerous When Wet, Especially With Blue Bottles
- People Who Changed The World Of Open Water Swimming
- 30 Open Water Swimmers Known By One Name
- Look Behind And Below You In The Open Water
- Swimming Fast And Slow With Stops Between
- Ties Between Carissa Moore And Shelley Taylor-Smith
- Sayings From The Open Water Swimming World
- Darren Miller's Rock Solid Six Pack
- The Value Of Safety And Preparedness In The Open Water
- Swimming With The Boys
- Different Reactions To Jellyfish Stings
- Women Swimming Circles Around Manhattan Island
- Aussie Rules Swimming, Paul Newsome Carries On
- The Perfect Female Open Water Swimmer
- An Exercise In Open Water Swimming Democracy