Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Melissa Cunningham

Courtesy of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Chris Guesdon and Gary Toner announced Melissa Cunningham as a member of the inaugural Class of 2020 in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

They explained, “Melissa is Australian representative swimmer no 453 for being selected to represent Australia at 1993 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

Melissa’s accomplishments cover many areas of the sport of marathon swimming including winning the FINA World Championships and many other races around the world, but her involvement goes further into open water swimming.

Since ending the competing phase of her career, Melissa moved into commentary and giving back to the sport as a technical official and administrator.

Melissa served as an announcer at the first Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim in Beijing as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games [see photo above], and was a member of the FINA Athletes Commission and FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee. Mel was also the international Chief Commentator for marathon swimming at the the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, and the Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia.

The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee wants to assure the highest level of commentating quality is provided at their own Tokyo Olympic Games and appointed Cunningham to fulfill the same role in Tokyo in 2021.

In 2012, Melissa was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and had to contend with chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation therapy. Her cancer is now in remission, however in true Melissa spirit, she served as a McGrath Foundation Ambassador staging fundraising activities. Her Every Stroke Counts fundraising event is her way of giving back to those who helped her through her greatest challenge.

She is a nationally accredited open water swimming referee in Australia. Mel was the Singapore Swimming Association Open Water Chairman from 2006 to 2008 and served as the technical director and meet director for FINA World Cup events in Singapore in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She was a member of the Swimming Victoria open water swimming committee and competition committee. She has coached swimming and run swim schools in both Australia and Singapore.

Swimming Highlights
2017 to Present
· International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Executive Committee Member – Election Chairperson
2015
· Swimming Victoria – Open Water Swimmer of the Year (Open and Age) trophy named the Melissa Cunningham Trophy
2014
· Awarded International Swimming Hall of Fame Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award
2013 – 2016
· Member Swimming Victoria Open Water Swimming Committee
2013
· Inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
2012 – 2014
· Founder and Organiser of Every Stroke Counts 1-hour Relay swim to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation.
2008
· Commentator 2008 Olympic Games, Olympic Organising Committee, Beijing, China
· Announcer/Commentator FINA/Arena Short Course World Cup, Singapore
· Announcer Asian Beach Games, Open Water Swimming, Bali, Indonesia
2007
· Commentator FINA World Championships, Melbourne
· Commentator 2007 Pre-Olympic Games Event, Beijing
· Announcer / Commentator FINA / Arena Short Course World Cup, Singapore
2006-2008
· Chairman Singapore Swimming Open Water Swimming Committee
2006 – 2008
· Technical and Meet Director FINA Marathon Swimming World Cup, Singapore
· Conducting Technical Official Training and Swimmers Workshops
2000 – 2005
· FINA Athletes Commission Member
2000 – 2002
· Swimmers Representative Australian Open Water Swimming Committee
2000
· Recipient, Australian Sports Medal
1998
· Captain – Australian Open Water Swim Team
· 2nd – FINA World Championships – 25 km Open Water – Team event
1997
· 1st 5 km, 8 km, 15 km – Sardinia, Italy
· 1st 25 km Victoria State titles
· 2nd Australian 25 km Open Water Swimming Championships
1996
· 1st overall 16 km Australia Championships & Tasmanian State Championships
· 1st 16 km NSW & Victorian State Championships
· 1st Australian Open Water Swimming Grand Prix Series
· 1st 25 km Victorian State Championships
· 2nd Australian 25 km Open Water Swimming Championships
· 1st FINA Open Water Swimming 25 km World Cup Evian, France
· 1st FINA Open Water Swimming 25 km World Cup Team Event Evian, France
· 1st Malta to Sicily 96 km relay race (with Grant Robinson, Joe Mitchell, Shelley Taylor-Smith)
· 1st 36 km race Ponza, Italy
· Australian Swimming Open Water Swimmer of the Year
1995
· 1st 16 km Victorian State Championships
· Finalist Victorian Caltex Sports Star Award
· 1st 16 km Tasmanian & NSW Open Water State Championships
· 1st 25 km Australian Open Water Swimming Championships
· 1st Australian Open Water Swimming Grand Prix Series
· 2nd 25 km Pan Pacific Games Atlanta, USA
· 1st 25 km Team event Pan Pacific Games, Atlanta, USA
· Australian Swimming Open Water Swimmer of the Year
· Finalist of Young Australian of the Year
· Finalist Vic Sports Awards
· Swimming Victoria – Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Year
1994
· 1st 21 km NSW State Championships (second overall)
· 1st overall 16 km Tasmania State Championships
· 2nd 25 km Australian Open Water Championships
· 1st 16 km Italian Championships Crotone, Italy
· 1st FINA World Championships – 25 km Open Water, San Felice, Italy
· 1st FINA World Championships – 25 km Open Water Team Event, San Felice, Italy
· Australian Swimming Open Water Swimmer of the Year
· Swimming World Magazine Long Distance Swimmer of the Year
1993
· 2nd 25 km Australian Open Water Swimming Championships
· 1st overall 8 km Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim, Queensland
· World Record, Guinness Book of Records 24-hour swim. Swam 93 km, breaking existing record by 10.9 km
· 3rd 25 km Pan Pacific Games, San Felice, Italy

For more information about her career, visit here and here.

The inaugural class of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honourees inducted on August 2020 include:

Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honourees – Class of 2020:
* Jennifer Anderson
* Lauren Arndt
* David Bates
* Clive Berry Rickards
* Kate Brookes-Peterson
* Roger Bruce
* Tamara Bruce
* Richard Campion
* Brendan Capell
* Graeme Carroll
* Cavill Family
* Melissa Cunningham
* William Ford
* Melissa Gorman
* Trent Grimsey
* Christopher Guesdon
* Susanne Guesdon
* Kevin Holtom
* Annette Kellerman
* Tracy Knowles
* John Koorey
* Susie Maroney OAM
* Chloë McCardel
* Linda McGill MBE
* Joseph Mitchell
* Lynton Mortensen
* David O’Brien OAM
* Penny Palfrey
* James Pittar
* Des Renford MBE
* Grant Robinson
* Rottnest Channel Swim Association
* Mark Saliba
* Josh Santacaterina
* Shelley Taylor-Smith
* Gary Toner
* Suzanne Toner

For more information, visit the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Facebook here with Instagram @amshofame.

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