Nationality:AUS  Australia
Date of Birth:04/08/1937
Dawn Fraser is an Australian swimming legend. She's the only athlete in the world to win the same event at three Olympic Games in a row. Dawn was born in 1937. Her family lived in Balmain, Sydney. "I have beautiful memories of Balmain. I live in the house my parents lived in and I was born in. I suppose I feel quite safe in it." With three brothers and four sisters, life in the Fraser's house was pretty hectic. Dawn was the youngest. She had asthma and swimming helped her breathing. Although, Dawn liked all sports. "I had my first game of football on this oval here with my brothers. We came down here for a school carnival and they were one short and I had very long hair at the time and my brothers ran over to the caretakers lodge and got a pair of scissors and cut my hair so that I'd look like a boy and put a pair of football boots on me and a football jumper on me and I played for the school on the wing." Dawn's favourite brother, Don, used to take her to the pool. It was here that her love affair with the water began. Don encouraged Dawn to train, but when she was 13 he died. "I can remember crawling through the window where he was in the hospital. He asked me...he said, 'you have a gift...keep training for me'. I s'pose those were the last words he ever spoke to me." A coach, Harry Gallagher, spotted Dawn. He offered to train her for nothing...and so began a magnificent swimming career. Harry moved to Adelaide and Dawn followed. She worked in the fashion department of a big store and when Dawn wasn't there she'd be training at the local pool. She was part of a group nicknamed, 'The Water Babes'. Training with the men made Dawn extremely competitive. Harry perfected Dawn's style and in 1956 she qualified for the Melbourne Olympics. Dawn won gold in the 100 metres freestyle. Dawn became a permanent member of the Australian Swimming Team. She won 2 more gold medals at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. In 1960, it was time for the Rome Olympics. Dawn was twenty-three years of age and now the oldest of 'The Water Babes'. She was also very independent and this often got her into trouble with officials. "They'd tell me I'd have to go to bed at 9.30 at night time. After training for four years if I went to bed at ten that was fine, it suited me because that's what I trained my body to do and I trained my body to do that and my mind to relax at that time. I wasn't a 14 or 15 year old. I was an intelligent adult." Dawn won the one hundred metres freestyle again. Two years later, Dawn became the first woman to swim one hundred metres in less than a minute. In 1964, Dawn's mother died. It was just before the Tokyo Olympics and Dawn almost gave up swimming. But she kept going and went on to win a record third Olympic gold medal in the 100 metres. Pranks out of the pool landed Dawn in hot water again. She was banned from competition for ten year for something she didn't do. "I guess it retired me four years earlier than I wanted to retire." Dawn picked herself up. The year after the Tokyo Olympics she married Gary Ware. They had a baby but the marriage didn't last. Dawn started coaching and had a series of other jobs. They included running a cheese shop and a pub in Balmain. In 1988, Dawn went into politics and was elected to represent Balmain in the New South Wales parliament. Dawn still loves the water and still lives in Balmain...whatever she does, people will always remember Dawn Fraser as a swimmer and a personality.
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