Shelley Mann was known as one of the glamour girls of sports in the United States in the 1950’s. Although born in Long Island, New York and a graduate of Cornell University, Mann’s parents were native Virginians and she returned to the Old Dominion at an early age.
At age ten Mann could not swim, but started training at twelve for the swimming career that was to bring her international renown even before she graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington.
By the time Mann was fifteen she had claimed several World marks as a member of the then famous Walter Reed Club of Northern Virginia. In the early 1950’s she won U.S. National championships in the 100 backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, 250 freestyle, 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley records in the years following the transition of the breaststroke as the fourth competitive stroke. Prior to her Olympic victory in 1956 at Melbourne, Australia Mann already held the World record in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.
Mann was five times individual high scorer at the U.S. Nationals and established over 25 American records and 10 World marks. She was the recipient of the National B’nai B’rith Award for “high principle and achievement in sports”. She received an award of merit in Aquatics from the Los Angeles Times and a Goodwill Tour of New Zealand by invitation of the New Zealand Swimming Association.