Inducted November 20, 1993
Paula Kelly burst on the Newfoundland swim scene in the early 70s and showed promise from the start. At the age of 12 she qualified and swam in the 1977 Jeux Canada Games held at the Aquarena. With this experience and confidence builder the stage was set for Paula to become the most successful swimmer to emerge from this province. Many years of training combined with talent and an enduring work ethic resulted in championship performances.
In 1978 Kelly won a gold medal in the 800m, 400m and 200m freestyle, a gold in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, a silver in the 100m freestyle and 200m Individual Medley and a bronze in the 400m individual medley. As she matured she improved and her record showed it in all divisions. In 1978-81 she was honoured with the Best Performance by a Female Swimmer Award and in 1980 she was voted the St. John’s and Newfoundland Athlete of the Year.
The highlight of her career came in 1980 as she became the only Newfoundlander and youngest swimmer to qualify for the Canadian Olympic Swim Team. She continued her success nationally being named Best Canadian Female Breaststroke according to Swim Magazine and competed successfully in various international competitions with a Bronze and Gold medal in Hawaii and Japan, respectively.
Kelly would have been the first Newfoundland swimmer to represent Canada at the Olympics in 1980 but the Canadians boycotted them and she missed her opportunity to compete. Kelly made and broke many Newfoundland records during her career, most of which still stand today. Kelly remains an inspiration for every Newfoundland swimmer.