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Dawn Fraser
Dawn Fraser.jpg
Dawn Fraser in May 2012
Personal information
Nickname(s) "Dawny"
Born (1937-09-04) 4 September 1937 (age 86)
Balmain, New South Wales, Australia
Height 1.72 metres (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 67 kilograms (148 lb)
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
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle, butterfly
Medal record
Women's swimming
Representing Australia
Olympic Games
Gold 1956 Melbourne 100 m freestyle
Gold 1956 Melbourne 4×100 m freestyle
Gold 1960 Rome 100 m freestyle
Gold 1964 Tokyo 100 m freestyle
Silver 1956 Melbourne 400 m freestyle
Silver 1960 Rome 4×100 m freestyle
Silver 1960 Rome 4×100 m medley
Silver 1964 Tokyo 4×100 m freestyle
British Empire and Commonwealth Games
Gold 1958 Cardiff 110 yd freestyle
Gold 1958 Cardiff 4×110 yd freestyle
Gold 1962 Perth 110 yd freestyle
Gold 1962 Perth 440 yd freestyle
Gold 1962 Perth 4×110 yd freestyle
Gold 1962 Perth 4×110 yd medley
Silver 1958 Cardiff 440 yd freestyle

Dawn Fraser AC MBE (born 4 September 1937) is an Australian freestyle champion swimmer and former politician. She is one of only four swimmers to have won the same Olympic individual event three times – in her case the women's 100-metre freestyle.

Early life

Fraser was born in the Sydney suburb of Balmain, New South Wales, in 1937 into a poor working-class family, the youngest of eight children. Her father, Kenneth Fraser, was from Embo, Scotland. She was spotted at the early age of 14 by Sydney coach Harry Gallagher swimming at the local sea baths.

Swimming career

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 four swimmers in Olympic history (Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky both from the United States being the three others) to have won 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. It was not until 1972, eight years after Fraser retired, that her 100 m record of 58.9 secs was broken.

Several weeks before the 1964 Olympics, Fraser was injured in a car crash that resulted in the death of her mother Rose. Her sister and a friend were also travelling in Fraser's car when it crashed, but they survived. This was a fresh tragedy for Fraser and her family following her older brother's death from leukaemia in 1950, and her father died after a long battle against cancer in 1960.

1964 Summer Olympics incidents and ban from swimming

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, as she found it more comfortable than the one supplied by the sponsors. She was also accused of stealing an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito's palace, the Kōkyo. She was arrested but released without charge. In the end she was given the flag as a souvenir.

Fraser later denied having swum 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." The Australian Amateur Swimming Association banned Fraser from competitive swimming for 10 years.

Post-swimming activities

Fraser became a publican at the Riverview Hotel, Balmain, and took up swimming coaching.

In 1988, Fraser was elected as an independent to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the seat of Balmain. That electorate was abolished in 1991, and after she failed to win the new seat of Port Jackson, she retired from politics.

Personal life

Fraser married Gary Ware on 30 January 1965 at St Stephens Church, Macquarie Street, Sydney. The marriage was short-lived. She has one daughter from the marriage, who has a son. They all live in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. This move north from Sydney to a warmer, subtropical climate was due to the fact Fraser suffers from severe asthma.

Fraser is the great-aunt of Canadian soccer player Danielle Steer.


Fraser was named the Australian of the Year in 1964, was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965, (as Dawn Ware) was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1967, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1998. Also in 1998, she was voted Australia's greatest female athlete in history. She was named Australian Female Athlete of the Century by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, who had inducted her as their first female member in 1985. In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named her the World's Greatest Living Female Water Sports Champion. on 14 July 2000, Fraser was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for "outstanding contribution as a swimming competitor".

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. The sea baths in Balmain where she swam were named the Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool in her honour in 1964, and in 1992, the State Transit Authority named a RiverCat ferry after Fraser.

As part of the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours she was advanced to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

In 2022, she was an inaugural inductee of the Swimming Australia Hall of Fame.

Olympic accomplishments

Dawn Fraser 1958
Dawn Fraser in 1958
Dawn Fraser and Ilsa Konrads at the Australian National Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials, North Sydney Olympic Pool, 27 February 1960
Dawn Fraser and Ilsa Konrads at the Australian National Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials, North Sydney Olympic Pool, 27 February 1960
Event Time Place
1956 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 1:02.0 Gold WR
400m Freestyle 5:02.5 Silver
4 × 100 m Freestyle Relay 4:17.1 Gold WR
1960 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 1:01.2 Gold OR
400m Freestyle 4:58.5 5th
4 × 100 m Freestyle Relay 4:11.3 Silver
4 × 100 m Medley Relay 4:45.9 Silver
1964 Summer Olympics
100m Freestyle 59.5 Gold OR
400m Freestyle 4:47.6 4th
4 × 100 m Freestyle Relay 4:06.9 Silver
4 × 100 m Medley Relay 4:52.3 9th
  • 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games
    • 110 yards freestyle – gold medal
    • 440 yards freestyle – gold medal
    • 4 × 110 yards (4 × 100.58 metres) freestyle relay – gold medal
    • 4 × 110 yards (4 × 100.58 metres) medley relay – gold medal

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Dawn Fraser para niños

  • List of members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame
  • List of multiple Olympic gold medalists
  • List of multiple Olympic gold medalists in one event
  • List of multiple Summer Olympic medalists
  • List of Olympic medalists in swimming (women)
  • World record progression 100 metres freestyle
  • World record progression 200 metres freestyle
  • World record progression 4 × 100 metres freestyle relay
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