Shelley Taylor-Smith was the celebrity guest swimmer ©Getty Images

Shelley Taylor-Smith was the celebrity guest swimmer for the Bosphorus Cross-Continental race after being unveiled by the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC).

The 54-year-old Australian suffered from scoliosis at a young age and then partial paralysis later in her career, but still managed to win a remarkable seven International Swimming Federation (FINA) Marathon World Cups in a row during her time as a pro.

In 1991, she won open water 25 kilometres gold at her home FINA World Championships in Perth, before adding a bronze in the same discipline three years later.

Taking place in Istanbul, yesterday's Bosphorus race started in Kanlıca on the Asian side of the cross-continental city.

Swimmers finished at the Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side, covering 6.5km.

The Bosphorus swim has become a major annual event ©Getty Images
The Bosphorus swim has become a major annual event ©Getty Images

Shipping traffic on the busy stretch of water was halted while the swimmers crossed, with Turkish swimmer Ömer Tara winning with a time of 47min, 39sec.

"The TOC and city of Istanbul are proud to host this unique event, now in its 28th edition," said TOC President Professor Dr. Uğur Erdener.

"With the help of our sponsor Samsung Electronics Turkey, we have boosted participation levels year-on-year, with the 2016 edition attracting more swimmers and nationalities than ever before.

"Istanbul is renowned for its diversity and is a melting pot of culture."

The race began in 1988 as a local swim but has come on in a big way since then.

“Being at the forefront of the information sector globally, we believe sport has an important role as a tool to cross borders and continents, uniting people from different cultures and promoting love and tolerance," said DaeHyun Kim, President of Samsung Electronics Turkey.