By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Manitoba will never forget one of its greatest swimmers, freestyle specialist Shannon Shakespeare.
A 14-time national champion and 11-time national record holder, Shakespeare’s accomplishments led her to the Olympic Games and World Championships.
Born in Mission, B.C, Shakespeare began her swimming career in Thompson, Manitoba with the Thompson Northern Torpedoes, before eventually moving to Winnipeg to train with the Manitoba Marlins. Her success as a junior athlete earned her a spot on Canada’s national team from 1993-2000.
Her first big splash came in 1993 as a 16-year-old. She broke the Canadian and Commonwealth records in the 50-metre freestyle and earned a bronze medal in the 4 x 100-metre relay at the Pan-Pacific Championships in Japan. This kicked off one of the most dominant decades ever by a Manitoban swimmer.
A Championship Pursuit
In 1994, she returned to the Commonwealth Games, where she took home bronze in the 50-metre freestyle and the 4 x 100-metre relay. In 1995, she helped Canada strike gold in the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay and added a silver in the 4 x 100-metre relay at the World Championships. She also won four silver medals at the Pan-Pacific Championships that year.
1996 was the year of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, and Shakespeare got ready for the event with gold and bronze medals at the U.S. Grand Prix. Swimming in the world’s highest competition, she helped Canada place fifth in the 4 x 100-metre race and finished 17th in the 200-metre freestyle at the Olympics.
Serving as captain of the Canadian Olympic team in 2000, Shakespeare finished seventh in the 4 x 100-metre and fifth in the 4 x 100-metre races.
In the midst of her tremendous international career, she also put together a Hall of Fame collegiate career at the University of Michigan from 1996-2000. She won 21 Big 10 Conference Championships, was a 23-time NCAA All-American, and held seven Big 10 Conference and seven Michigan records.
She was the co-winner of the Big 10 Swimmer of the Year award in 1997 after she won silver and bronze at the NCAA Division 1 Championships.
Three years later, she was the sole recipient of the award while serving as Team Captain for Michigan.
Shakespeare was named the Sport Manitoba Junior Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1995.
She was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and is a member of the Kelvin High School Hall of Fame — two very well-deserved accomplishments for a remarkable career!