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Tammy van Wisse


One of the world’s most treacherous swims is the crossing of Bass Strait, between Tasmania and Victoria.

Many thought this feat was impossible.

However, in 1996, decorated Australian marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse conquered Bass Strait, swimming from Tasmania’s King Island to Apollo Bay in Victoria.

She is still the only human on the planet to have accomplished this 97-kilometre swim.  

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Tammy’s swimming achievements

  • Swimming more than 65,000kms – one-and-half times around the world
  • Representing Australia in 18 international marathons
  • Winning more than 150 Victorian Royal Lifesaving State medallions
  • Setting six world records; five are still current



Tammy has swum in some of the world’s most inhospitable waters and has proven to be one of the toughest and most resilient swimmers anywhere in the world.

She has conquered the English Channel, Manhattan Island in New York, Cook Strait in New Zealand, and is the fastest person to swim the length of Loch Ness in Scotland, the Murray River and the Gippsland Lakes in Australia.


She was a world record holder for swimming from Battery Point, New York to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in a time of five hours and six minutes.



Tammy’s list of achievements is as endless as the number of kilometres she has amassed in pools and open water around the world. Tammy possesses the most important element of success - mental toughness.

Her iron will to achieve her goals has been tested on many occasions and she has always conquered her high-level challenges. 


While swimming in difficult conditions and challenging herself physically and mentally, Tammy has learned the art of mental toughness.

Marathon swims require that you push yourself to sustain physical fatigue but remain positively focused for long periods of time.

The environment is ever changing and challenging; from rogue waves, tides, weather, watery shadows - both real and imagined, fluctuating water temperatures to the constant threat of hypothermia.

Riding out the waves of difficulty and navigating unchartered territory requires a powerful mindset. It is strength of mind - not body.


In various areas of our lives – from education to work or your health - mental toughness, perseverance and resilience are key traits that help us to grow, thrive, solve problems and deal with life’s pressures.

Mental toughness is an abstract quality that is tied to concrete actions.

It’s like a muscle and needs to be worked every day to grow and develop.

It is built through habits and small changes, and the choices that we make on a daily basis.

World Records

  • 1996: the first to swim Bass Strait (97.4 km in 17 hours and 46 minutes). It took Tammy 84,000 freestyle strokes from Tasmania’s King Island to Apollo Bay. No one has even attempted to repeat this remarkable feat.

  • 1999: Fastest woman to swim across Cook Strait from the north to the south islands of New Zealand - six hours and 49 minutes.

  • 1999: Fastest person to swim the length of Loch Ness - nine hours and six minutes.

  • 2001: Fastest person to swim the length of the Murray River; 106 days, 2428 kilometres – more than two million freestyle strokes.

  • 2004: First and fastest person to swim the Gippsland Lakes, from Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance; nine hours and 57 minutes.

  • 2006: In a tribute swim to one of her childhood heroes Gertrude Ederle, Tammy was fastest to swim 22 miles from Battery Point, New York to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in five hours and six minutes. July the 21st is now proclaimed each and every year as Tammy van Wisse Day in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Tammy held this record for five years.




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