Tammy grew up in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria.

Her parents, John & Els, were Dutch immigrants, arriving in Australia in the early 1960’s.

Tammy was the fat kid at school – always picked last for sports!

By her teens, she had achieved success in the pool and open water, taking line honours in the
prestigious Lorne Pier to Pub in Victoria three times. She also set a new benchmark in lifesaving, winning the title of Victorian Royal LSS Iron woman for 17 years in a row!

Tammy entered the record books by becoming the fastest person to swim across the English Channel in 1993.

In 1996, she pushed the boundaries of endurance by swimming 18hours non-stop across the treacherous Bass Strait from King Island to Apollo Bay.

Tammy is the only human on the planet to have accomplished this feat.

Dubbed the “human water quality tester”, Tammy has been an advocate for cleaner waterways and a Champion for Change since her first swim across Port Phillip Bay, Victoria in 1993.

In 2001, she swam the entire 2438km length of the Murray to highlight the river’s environmental importance with the support of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Starting from Corryong in Victoria’s High Country, it took Tammy 106 days (3.5 months) to reach the Murray Mouth in South Australia.

In 2006, Tammy swam from New York to New Jersey with the objective to honour her childhood hero Gertrude Ederle.

Gertrude was a pioneer for women in sport, and in 1926, made history by becoming the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Tammy undertook the 35km swim following in the footsteps of Ederle, a New Jersey native, with the goal of inspiring another generation of women and girls.

She smashed Ederle’s 81-year-old world record and received widespread recognition in the US for her feat, including having a day named after her!
Every July 21st is now celebrated as “Tammy van Wisse Day” in Monmouth County, New Jersey in honour of Tammy’s amazing swim.


  • The total distance she has swum is over 65 000kms (1.5 times round the world)
  • 1996: first to swim Bass Strait (97.4 km in 17 hours and 46 minutes)… it took her 84,000 freestyle strokes from Tasmania’s King Island to Apollo Bay. No-one has even attempted to repeat this remarkable feat.
  • 1997: Winner of Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, New York (7hrs 15min) and finished in second place in 1999 (6hrs 51min).
  • 1999: New World Record time – fastest person to swim across Cook Strait, New Zealand. 25km, North to South – six hours and 49 minutes.

*Note: record broken by Casey Glover in 2008, however Tammy remains the fastest female.

  • 1999: Fastest person to swim the 40km length of Loch Ness, Scotland (wet suited) Nine hours and six minutes.
  • 2000/01: Fastest person to swim the length of the Murray River; 106 days, 2438 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.


  • Tammy van Wisse Day” is celebrated every 21st July in the Highlands County of New Jersey, USA in commemoration of Tammy’s 35km record breaking swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
  • Inducted into “Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame” in 2021
  • Australian Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” Award 2001
  • Centenary Medal for service to the community through lifesaving, youth leadership and the environment 2003
  • Recipient of State Medallion, Sth Australia for highlighting the environmental plight of the Murray River 2001
  • Prime Minister’s Award for Outstanding Achievement 1998