Dawn Fraser

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Dawn Fraser
Dawn Fraser.jpg
Dawn Fraser in May 2012
Personal information
Full name Dawn Fraser
Nationality Australian
Born (1937-09-04) 4 September 1937 (age 76)
Balmain, New South Wales
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 67 kg (148 lb)
Sport
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Freestyle

Dawn Fraser AOMBE (born 4 September 1937) is an Australian champion swimmer and former politician. She is one of only three swimmers to win the same Olympic event three times – in her case the 100 metres freestyle.[1]

Within Australia, during her swimming career she was often known for her controversial behaviour and larrikin character as much as for her athletic ability. She 'outgrew' that reputation as evidenced by the many honours she has received since her competitive swimming career ended. See Honours.

Early life[edit]

Fraser was born in the Sydney suburb of Balmain in 1937 into a working-class family. She was spotted at the early age of 14 by Sydney coach Harry Gallagher swimming at the local sea baths.

Swimming career[edit]

Fraser won eight Olympic medals, including four gold medals, and six Commonwealth Games gold medals. She also held 39 records. The 100 metres freestyle record was hers for 15 years from 1 December 1956 to 8 January 1972.

She is the first of only three swimmers in Olympic history (Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary and Michael Phelps of USA being the two others) to win individual gold medals for the same event at three successive Olympics (100 metres freestyle – 1956, 1960, 1964).

In October 1962, she became the first woman to swim 100 metres freestyle in less than one minute.[2] It was not until 1973, eight years after Fraser retired, that her 100m record of 58.9 secs was broken.[3]

During the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Fraser angered swimming team sponsors and the Australian Swimming Union (ASU) by marching in the opening ceremony against their wishes, and wearing an older swimming costume in competition because it was more comfortable than the one supplied by the sponsors. She was accused of stealing an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito's palace from the Kōkyo. She was arrested but released without charge. In the end she was given the flag as a souvenir.[4] However, the Australian Swimming Union suspended her for 10 years. They relented a few months before the 1968 Games but by then it was too late for Fraser, at 31, to prepare.

She would later deny swimming the moat to steal the flag, telling The Times in 1991: "There's no way I would have swum that moat. I was terrified of dirty water and that moat was filthy. There's no way I'd have dipped my toe in it."

Post-swimming activities[edit]

Dawn Fraser
AO MBE
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Balmain
In office
19 March 1988 – 25 May 1991
Preceded by Peter Crawford
Succeeded by District abolished

Fraser became a publican at the Riverview Hotel, Balmain, and took up swimming coaching. In 1988, she was elected an independent Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the seat of Balmain. Fraser left politics when the seat was abolished in 1991.[1][5]

Honours[edit]

She was named the Australian of the Year in 1964,[6] was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1967,[7] and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1998.[8] Also in 1998, she was voted Australia's greatest female athlete in history.[citation needed] She was named Australian Female Athlete of the Century by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame,[9] who had inducted her as their first female member in 1985.[10] In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named her the World's Greatest Living Female Water Sports Champion.[citation needed] on 14 July 2000, Fraser was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for "outstanding contribution as a swimming competitor".[11]

She was one of the bearers of the Olympic Torch at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She carried the Olympic Torch at the stadium, as one of the bearers for the final segment, before the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

The Australian Sport Awards includes an award named in honour of and presented by Fraser. There is also a ferry named after her that operates on the Parramatta River in Sydney.

Personal life[edit]

She married Gary Ware in the 1960s, but the marriage was short-lived. She has one daughter, Dawn-Lorraine, and a grandson.

In film[edit]

In 1979, a movie called Dawn was made about Fraser's life and career. It starred Bronwyn Mackay-Payne as Fraser.

Fraser was played by Melissa Thomas in the 2003 film Swimming Upstream. Fraser herself is credited in the film as Dawn Fraser's coach.

Olympic accomplishments[edit]

Dawn Fraser in 1958
Event Time Place
1956 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 1:02.0 Gold WR
400m Freestyle 5:02.5 Silver
4×100m Freestyle Relay 4:17.1 Gold WR
1960 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 1:01.2 Gold OR
400m Freestyle 4:58.5 5th
4×100m Freestyle Relay 4:11.3 Silver
4×100m Medley Relay 4:45.9 Silver
1964 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 59.5 Gold OR
400m Freestyle 4:47.6 4th
4×100m Freestyle Relay 4:06.9 Silver
4×100m Medley Relay 4:52.3 9th
  • 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games
    • 110 yards freestyle – gold medal
    • 440 yards freestyle – gold medal
    • 4 x 110 yards (4 x 100.58 metres) freestyle relay – gold medal
    • 4 x 110 yards (4 x 100.58 metres) medley relay – gold medal

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dawn Fraser. sports-reference.com
  2. ^ Clarkson, Alan (28 October 1962). "Champion's world time in 110 yds". The Sun-Herald. p. 67. 
  3. ^ "Swim contest a spectacular of records". The Sun-Herald (AAP, Reuters). 2 May 1971. p. 107. 
  4. ^ Monica Attard, Lorna Knowles and Dan Driscoll (15 April 2007). "Dawn Fraser: still kicking". [Profile]. ABC. Radio National. http://www.abc.net.au/sundayprofile/stories/listen_to_m1378079.Mp3.
  5. ^ "Ms Dawn Fraser (1937 – )". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5. 
  7. ^ It's an Honour – Member of the Order of the British Empire
  8. ^ It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia
  9. ^ Wilson, Chris (28 February 2013). "Fraser named greatest despite push for skater". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Dawn Fraser AO MBE". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Dawn Fraser". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Peter Crawford
Member for Balmain
1988–1991
District abolished