The World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year honors the woman who (1) best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, (2) possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year.
Her nomination from the World Open Water Swimming Association reads,
"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."
The 2012 nominees are (listed in alphabetical order of their first name):
1. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil), World Professional Marathon Champion
2. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden), Oceans Seven Swimmer
3. Annaleise Carr (Canada), Young Marathon Swimmer
4. Catherine Vogt (USA), Dual Olympic Coach
5. Diana Nyad (USA), Xtreme Dreamer
6. Esther Nuñez Morera (Spain), Professional Marathon Swimming Champion
7. Grace van der Byl (USA), Marathon Record Breaker
8. Janel Jorgensen McArdle (USA), Swim Across America President
9. Julia Washbourne (Hong Kong), Eco-Swimming Aquapreneur
10. Karen Gaffney (USA), Swimming Philanthropist
11. Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain), British Open Water Icon
12. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA), Channel Swimming Late Bloomer
13. Risztov Éva (Hungary), Olympic Champion
14. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia), Pioneering Administrator
15. Tina Neill (USA), San Clemente Channel Swimmer
Taylor-Smith is one of the very few aquatic athletes inducted in both the International Swimming Hall of Fame (2009) and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (1989). Her exploits only begin with her seven-time world professional marathon swimming championships. She is also one of the longest serving volunteers on the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and a member of the board of directors of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
She won the inaugural FINA World Swimming Championship 25 km in 1990. 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 once described her as, "Shelley Taylor-Smith is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and probably one of Australia's most unsung heroes."
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source