Shelley Mann, Olympic gold and silver medalist in the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia, was a well-known and well-loved Arlington resident.
Though training for several hours a day, Shelley was still an ordinary, though popular, teenager. She attended Thomas Jefferson Junior High and graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1955. While a student, Shelley sang in the choir, was a member of the social group the Sub Deb Club, and attended dances, football and basketball games, and went out to eat with her friends. However, as Shelley’s trophies and awards mounted, she became a local celebrity.
In the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Shelley Mann won the gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly, the first year the butterfly stroke was part of the Olympic program. She was also part of the silver medal-winning 4×100 meter freestyle relay team. Her gold was the only one brought home by an American woman, and one of only two gold medals won by the entire US swim team. Once Shelley returned to the US, she was a national sensation and claimed as Arlington’s own. On December 17, 1956, only home for a few days, Shelley received the key to Washington, DC, and was feted at Washington-Lee High School by Arlington’s county board and citizens.
Come celebrate Shelley Mann and the Olympic spirit in the Virginia Room, where we are currently exhibiting Shelley’s awards and personal effects!!
What About You?
Do you remember Shelley Mann and her swimming exploits? Did you know her? Let us hear from you!