Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When Chloë McCardel completed her three-way crossing of the English Channel in 2015 in 36 hours 12 minutes, fellow Australian channel swimmer Michael ‘Murph’ Renford said, “Chloë’s success undoubtedly makes her the greatest marathon, endurance and open water swimmer in Australian history.

What makes for the greatest open water swimmer in Australian history?

It is a tremendously difficult choice since Australia has produced a number of female open water luminaries like Shelley Taylor-Smith, Tammy van Wisse, Susie Maroney, Penny Palfrey, Linda McGill, Melissa Cunningham, and Annette Kellerman.

Is speed and mano-a-mano marathon swimming competitiveness the optimal measure of greatness?

If so, then Shelley Taylor-Smith, a 7-time world professional marathon swimming champion and 5-time winner of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, and world champion Melissa Cunningham deserve mention among the greatest Aussies.

Is being a pioneer and doing swims that have never been done before in an era long gone a measure of greatness? If so, then Annette Kellerman deserves mention among the greatest Aussies.

Is being a world-class competitor as well as doing pioneering swims in the pre-GPS era a measure of greatness? If so, then Olympian Linda McGill, Tammy van Wisse, and Susie Maroney deserve mention among the greatest Aussies.

Is being a pioneer swimmer and a competitive swimmer at an advanced age a measure of greatness? If so, then Penny Palfrey deserves mention among the greatest Aussies.

Everyone will have their favorite swimmer, but Australian heroines have long dominated the open water around the globe. Not only have they swum extraordinarily well and courageously, but have also written books, served as motivational speakers, coached the next generation of open water swimmers, and given back to the sport in a selfless manner.

For Chloë McCardel‘s latest goal of completing 20 English Channel crossings, read here.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association