Dawn Fraser life and biography

Dawn Fraser picture, image, poster

Dawn Fraser biography

Date of birth : 1937-09-04
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Sydney, Australia
Nationality : Australian
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-07-06
Credited as : Olympic swimmer, ,

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Dawn Fraser (also known as: Dawn Lorraine Fraser), born 4 September 1937 is an Australian champion swimmer. She is one of only two swimmers to win the same Olympic event three times, in her case, the 100 meters freestyle.

Within Australia, she is known for her controversial behaviour and larrikin character as much as for her athletic ability.

Swimming is a sport that loves youth, but Australian Dawn Fraser proved the exception to the rule. Fraser was a seasoned 19 when she won her first Olympic gold medal in 1956 and a veritable senior citizen when she won her third Olympic gold in 1964. The first woman to freestyle 100 meters in less than a minute, Fraser overcame a late start in the swimming world to endure as a world champion and Olympic medalist through almost a decade of competition.

Fraser was born in 1937, the youngest of eight children of a Sydney shipwright. Her father had been a professional soccer player, but he knew nothing about swimming and did not encourage his children to try the sport. They found the local municipal pool anyway, and Dawn spent all of her spare time there. Unfortunately, she did not have very much spare time--her mother was ill, and Dawn had to pitch in and help with the housework.

As she grew older, Fraser was tempted into local meets by her brothers, who felt she could be a champion. Without proper coaching she was all heart and no finesse, but she managed to make a name for herself anyway. She was 14 when she swam for the first time under the watchful eye of Harry Gallagher, one of Australia's noted swimming coaches. Gallagher convinced her family to invest in swimming lessons, promising them that Dawn had the talent to be an international star.

Fraser had some catching up to do, and she worked extremely hard in preparation for the 1956 Olympics. The Summer Games were held in Melbourne that year--a convenient location for the Aussie swimmer. A relative unknown at the time, she blitzed the 100-meter freestyle in 1:02, easily taking the gold medal. When a reporter sympathized with her for "not getting started sooner," Fraser stared him down and predicted that she would be at the 1960 Olympics in Rome as well. "I'd sort of like another of these," she said, fingering her medal.

True to her predictions, Fraser did indeed return to the 1960 Olympics, this time as a defending champion in the 100-meter freestyle. She again won the gold in the 100-meter race and narrowly missed taking a medal in the 400-meter freestyle. Fraser earned some bad press at the 1960 Summer Games as well. Told that she wouldn't be needed for her country's 400-meter relay team, she went shopping on the day of that race. When she returned, she was informed that she would be swimming after all, and that the race was only 45 minutes away. She refused to participate on such short notice, and as a result was banned from the Australian team. Pleading her case at home after the Games, she was quickly re-instated.

Two medals might have been enough for many swimmers, but Fraser pressed on. She would be 27 at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, but she was also still in top form and a regular winner both on the national and international level. Just seven months before the 1964 Summer Games, she was involved in a serious automobile accident that killed her mother and injured herself and her sister. Her injury was a broken neck, and the doctors predicted that she would not swim again. They were wrong. "I had to fight back," Fraser explained. "That's what life is all about."

Fraser entered the 1964 Olympics with the nickname "Granny," based on her age. She proceeded to prove that she had not slowed down a bit, winning her third consecutive gold in the 100-meter freestyle. Finally, having proven that swimming is not necessarily the exclusive pursuit of the very young, she retired. She is a hero Down Under to this day.


Won gold medal in 100-meter freestyle, 1956 Olympic Games, Melbourne, Australia; captured gold medal in 100-meter freestyle, 1960 Olympic Games, Rome, Italy; acquired third consecutive gold medal in 100-meter freestyle, 1964 Olympic Games, Tokyo, Japan.

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