At just over 5’2″ tall, and not having made her first Olympic team until the age of 27, Sheila Taormina seems an unlikely candidate to have competed at four consecutive summer Olympiads in three completely different sports. Her first two attempts to qualify for the Olympics in swimming (1988 and 1992), came up short, during what were considered her “peak” years. Following those years she moved forward with her education, finishing her Masters degree in Business in 1994, and then began her professional career in the automotive industry that same year, working a full-time salaried position in Detroit.
With her eyes set on the possibilities of 1996, she trained before and after work with her small hometown swim team in Livonia, Michigan. There were no corporate endorsements fueling the effort – just a plan, some hard work, and a coach who believed along with her. Sheila learned about technique, efficiency, and the keys to success. Applying those throughout the years, Sheila grew to become Olympic champion in one sport, world champion in a second sport, and the world cup standings leader in a third sport.
This is not the “rise to the top quickly and make millions” story. It is the “get an education, work the best you can with what you have, and never give-up” story. In the end, Sheila Taormina has experienced six completely different disciplines on the Olympic stage – swimming, cycling, running, pistol shooting, fencing, and equestrian show jumping. Her perspective on the Olympics, human potential, and performance is unparalleled.
At present, Sheila travels as a motivational speaker for schools, businesses, and community organizations. She volunteers extensively within her community and has partnered with two national non-profit organizations to support their missions. She also conducts swimming clinics worldwide and is the author of Swim Speed Secrets, a book on freestyle swimming technique.