Dawn Fraser

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Dawn Fraser swim
Dawn Fraser.jpg

Dawn Fraser (2012)

Personal information
Surname: Dawn Fraser
Nation: AustraliaAustralia Australia
Swimming style (s) : Freestyle
Birthday: September 4, 1937
Place of birth: Balmain , New South Wales
Size: 1.72 m
Weight: 67 kg
Medal table

Dawn Lorraine Fraser AC , MBE (born September 4, 1937 in Balmain , New South Wales ) is a former Australian swimmer .

The 31-time national champion (23 individual and 8 relay successes) is one of the most successful and popular athletes in Australia and dominated the short freestyle distances from the mid-1950s. During her active career, she set 39 swimming world records (27 singles and twelve with the relay), among other things, she improved the world record over 100 m freestyle eleven times between 1956 and 1964 . Fraser was the first woman to break the minute in this discipline. At the Olympic Games , she was also the first woman on her parade route to win a swimming competition three times in a row ( 1956 , 1960 and 1964 ). Her trainer Harry Gallagher described her as a powerful athlete, but also as "completely uncontrollable" . Fraser defied rules and thus came several times with officials in conflict. Her career was involuntarily ended in 1965 by a ten-year ban on the part of the Australian Swimming Federation. She was only able to successfully challenge this legally in 1970. At this point, Fraser was already too old to continue her career successfully.


childhood and education

Dawn Fraser was born in Balmain (now part of Sydney) as the youngest of eight children and grew up in simple circumstances near the beach in Sydney. Her father, Kenneth Fraser, was a dock worker. The rebellious, thin girl suffered from asthma and chronic bronchitis and had to contribute to the family's livelihood at an early age - all the boys became carpenters, the girls tailors. In addition to his daily work in a clothing factory, Fraser often worked as a waitress in the evenings.

The Frasers were all enthusiastic about swimming and used the nearby Elkington Park in Sydney to do so. Dawn found her first coach in her brother Don, who taught her to swim in the morning before and in the evening after work. After Don's early death from leukemia , her cousin Chuck took over this job and recommended her to the swimming coach Harry Gallagher, who had immigrated from Austria . After initial hesitation, her family let her move to Gallagher in Adelaide at the age of 16 , where she found better training conditions. She swam up to 10 kilometers a day and the local climate alleviated her asthma symptoms. A first success for Fraser was winning the bronze medal at the Australian championships over 110 yards (100.58 m) in 1954, which was followed the following year by the first national championship title over double the distance.

Ascent to the dominant swimmer

On February 21, 1956, Fraser set a first world record in the 100 m freestyle with 1: 04.5 minutes by undercutting the Dutch Willie den Ouden's record after 20 years by a tenth of a second. In the 200 m freestyle four days later she also achieved a new world record time of 2: 20.7 minutes, which had previously been held by the Danish Ragnhild Hveger for over 20 years . Fraser was also successful a few months later at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, home . She won the gold medal in the 100m freestyle and the silver medal in the 400m freestyle (in her active days it was the only Olympic freestyle competitions for women). With the Australian freestyle relay she was Olympic champion over 4 × 100 m . At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome four years later, Fraser won two more relay silver medals and was again Olympic champion in her favorite discipline, 100 m freestyle. In the 400 m freestyle, she only took fifth place due to illness.

On October 27, 1962, Fraser swam the 110 yards freestyle in 59.9 seconds during an elimination race for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne . This made her the first woman to cover this distance in less than a minute. At the same time she had set the world record over 100 meters, a distance two feet shorter. In the same year, she was honored with the Associated Press' Athlete of the Year award . Her best time was beaten by Fraser, who smoked up to 30 cigarettes a day and described herself as "the best beer drinker in Australia" ( "I'm not a Saint Joan in a swimmer's suit." ), Again on February 29, 1964 in Sydney (58.9 seconds).

Last Olympic victory in Tokyo and suspension by the Australian Swimming Association

On March 8, 1964, shortly after the Australian Championships in Sydney, Fraser had a car accident when she was driving her sister to Brighton-Le-Sands. Her mother, Rose Miranda, who was in the car, was killed. Dawn Fraser sustained severe injuries to her neck and spine and was forced to wear a steel corset for nine weeks. After the great public sympathy for the personal blow of fate from ministers and fellow athletes, among others, Fraser refrained from considering ending her swimming career. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo at the end of the year , she triumphed over the 100 m freestyle for the third time in a row, making her the first female swimmer to win Olympic gold in an individual competition three times in a row. To date, only the Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi (1988, 1992 and 1996 over 200 m back) and the US American Michael Phelps (2004, 2008 and 2012 over 100 m respectively ) have triumphed three times in an individual swimming competition at the Olympic Games Butterfly and 200 m medley). In Tokyo, in addition to her individual title, she was also able to win the silver medal with the freestyle sprint relay and achieved a total of eight Olympic medals. This was followed by the Australian of the Year award . When awarding the award, she stated that she had always had many differences of opinion with officials, but had always fought for what she believed in: "Myself as an individual". In 1965 she was inducted into the international swimming pool 's hall of fame . In the same year, her first biography appeared, which she wrote together with Harry Gordon ( Gold Medal Girl; published abroad under the title Below the Surface: Confessions of an Olympic Champion ).

The Tokyo Games were not without disruptions for Fraser. She struggled to work with new Olympic trainer Terry Gathercole and refused to use the official swimsuit for competitions. The Australian swimming federation in turn suspected that Fraser wanted to bring her teammates against Gathercole. An incident occurred when Fraser and other colleagues in high spirits stole an Olympic flag from the imperial palace as a souvenir towards the end of the games . She was arrested by the police and held for one night. In March 1965 there was an unfounded ten-year ban by the Australian Swimming Association for "indiscipline", which Fraser had not given the opportunity to hear. Three other teammates got away with lesser penalties. Considered a scandal by the Australian public (among other things, Jack Renshaw , Prime Minister of New South Wales, called the sentence “cruel” and with “elements of hatred”), Fraser litigated the ban for several years. However, a verdict that rejected the ban did not come about until 1970, when the swimmer was already too old to continue her career. In 1968, Fraser had bet a journalist for £ 100 that she could still achieve a time under 1:02 minutes on her specialty 100 m freestyle. Invited by the organizers as a guest of honor at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City , she swam a time of 1: 00.2 minutes after only two months of training. This would have brought her the silver medal behind US Olympic champion Jan Henne (1: 00.0 min) in the regular competition .

Work after finishing your active career

After finishing her career as a swimmer, in which she claims to have covered 16,000 kilometers and spent 220 days entirely in the water, Fraser worked as a swimming coach with children. In 1980, she publicly opposed the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser , who was in favor of an Olympic boycott of the Australian team at the Moscow Games , and in a large solidarity campaign successfully promoted financial support for the Olympic participants, who had been denied funds by the government. A lawsuit by Malcolm Fraser, whose arguments Dawn Fraser had publicly described as "nonsense", failed. She then traveled to Moscow as the guest of honor.

Dawn Fraser married Gary Ware of Townsville in 1965 . The marriage to the bookmaker, whom she would later describe as controlling and violent, ended in divorce three years later. The connection resulted in a daughter who grew up with Fraser. She ran a pub in Sydney and was an independent MP for her hometown of Balmain in the New South Wales Parliament from 1988 to 1991. The pool in Elkington Park where she used to train has been renamed the Dawn Fraser Pool. In Australia, narcissus , orchid and rose varieties were named after the popular sportswoman .

In 1998 Fraser was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Australia and a year later in Vienna, together with the US swimmer Mark Spitz, was named “Water Sportsman of the Century”. At the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in her hometown of Sydney , Fraser was allowed to carry the torch with the Olympic flame into the Olympic Stadium.

In 2001, Fraser published her autobiography, Dawn: One Hell of a Life . In it she openly reported on lesbian relationships, including with the Australian writer Joy Cavill († 1990). Caville had written the script for the biopic The Swimmer (original title: Dawn! ) In 1979 with Bronwyn Mackay-Payne as the title heroine, on which Fraser was involved as a technical consultant. In her book, Fraser also gave information about a failed love affair with the well-known Australian rugby player Graeme Langlands and a rape by a Polish sailor.

In 2011, Fraser said in Australia's flag issue the award ceremony together with eleven other former title holders Australian of the Year (including Tim Flannery , Gustav Nossal , Robert de Castella , Shane Gould and Evonne Goolagong ) for a change in the flag of.

Established world record best times

discipline time date place
100 m freestyle 58.9 sec February 29, 1964 Sydney
200 m freestyle 2: 11.6 min February 27, 1960 Sydney
4 × 100 m freestyle 4: 16.2 min August 6, 1960 Townsville
(in cooperation with Alva Colquhoun , Lorraine Crapp and Ilsa Konrads )



  • Dawn Fraser, Harry Gordon: Below the Surface: Confessions of an Olympic Champion. Morrow, New York 1965, OCLC 490821 .
  • Dawn Fraser: Dawn: One Hell of a Life. Hodder Headline Australia, Sydney 2001, ISBN 0-7336-1342-X .

Web links

Commons : Dawn Fraser  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Dawn Fraser's profile on dawnfraser.com.au
  2. a b c d e Dawn Fraser. In: World who's who: Europa biographical reference. Routledge, London 2002.
  3. a b c d e Dawn Fraser. In: International Sports Archive. 03/1999 from January 11, 1999, supplemented by news from MA-Journal up to week 22/2001 (accessed via Munzinger Online ).
  4. ^ A b Peter Morgan: Idols of Sport: Swimming - Dawn Fraser. In: The Advertiser . April 17, 1999 (accessed via LexisNexis Wirtschaft ).
  5. a b Profile ( Memento from May 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) at australianoftheyear.org.au (accessed on September 5, 2012)
  6. a b c Dawn Fraser: still kicking ( memento of the original from February 12, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at abc.net.au, April 15, 2007 (accessed September 5, 2012). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.abc.net.au
  7. Fraser, Dawn. In: Victor S. Barnes: The Modern Encyclopaedia of Australia and New Zealand. Horwitz-Grahame, Sydney et al. 1964 (accessed via WBIS Online ).
  8. Cathrin Kahlweit (Ed.): Century women: Ikonen - Idole - Mythen , Munich 1999, p. 54.
  9. Pat Besord (Ed.): Encyclopaedia of swimming , London 1971, p. 109
  10. a b c Dawn Fraser: Many friends . In: Der Spiegel . 11/1965, p. 130.
  11. Harry Gordon: Ten of the BEST. In: Herald Sun . November 18, 2006, p. W04.
  12. Dawn Fraser banned for ten years . In: Arbeiter-Zeitung . Vienna March 2, 1965, p. 12 ( berufer-zeitung.at - the open online archive - digitized).
  13. Susan Hocking: Balmain girls don't cry. In: Hobart Mercury. October 21, 1991 (accessed via LexisNexis Wirtschaft).
  14. Dawn tells how control bids wrecked marriage. In: Hobart Mercury. May 26, 2001 (accessed via LexisNexis Wirtschaft).
  15. a b Jörg Winterfeldt: Record swimmer and best beer drinker in Australia. In: The world . December 20, 1999 (accessed via LexisNexis Wirtschaft).
  16. Dawn Fraser in the database of Sports-Reference (English; archived from the original ), accessed on September 5, 2012.
  17. It's an Honor. Australia Government, accessed July 22, 2010 .
  18. Ray Chesterton: Secrets of an Aussie legend. In: The Daily Telegraph . June 1, 2001, p. 30.
  19. MediaNet Press Release Wire: Twelve "Australians of the Year" Call for a New Flag . January 25, 2011, 11:01 PM AEST (accessed via LexisNexis Economy).
  20. a b c d e Michael Cowley: Our Dawn born to be wet and wild. In: Sydney Morning Herald . December 20, 1999, p. 24.