Dawn Fraser, The Girl from Balmain continues . . .
World record broken
Harry perfected Dawn's swimming style and in the Nationals for Olympic selection she broke a swimming record that had stood for 21 years. This qualified her for the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Dawn went on to win gold in the 100 metre Freestyle 60.2 seconds as well as taking gold in the 100m Freestyle Relay and silver in the 400m Freestyle at the Olympics.
After that spectacular performance at the Olympics, Dawn became a permanent member of the Australian Swimming Team and continued to win 2 more gold medals at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. Although Dawn was struck down with hepatitis, she was still able to win a position on the Olympic team for the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.
The 1960 Rome Olympics was not a pleasant time for her. At the age of 23, Dawn now was the oldest of 'The Water Babes'. Her independent attitude and larrikin (mischievous) ways often saw Dawn in trouble with officials. In addition the Australian swim team was struck down with illness, the coaches in disarray and unrealistic pressures put on the swimmers. For the second time Dawn won the 100m Freestyle, but because of a misunderstanding Dawn and officials clashed. Dawn was dropped from the Australian Team the following year. Dawn moved to Perth in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. Sadly it was during this time that Dawn's father died.
World record smashed
In the 1962 Dawn competed in the Commonwealth Games held in Perth, Australia. There she smashed the world record and become the first woman to break the 100m in less than a minute swimming it Freestyle in 59.9 seconds.
Tragedy strikes Dawn again
In 1964 a fatal car accident Dawn's mother was killed and Dawn was seriously injured landing her in hospital for nine weeks. This nearly ended her career and her plans to enter the Tokyo Olympics.
More records broken
Dawn found the strength to go on and competed in the Tokyo Olympics winning gold in the 100m Freestyle for the third successive time. This had never happened before in the history of the Olympic games.
Dawn becomes a member of Parliament
In 1988, Dawn went into politics and was elected as an Independent to represent Balmain in the New South Wales Parliament. Still having a love for swimming, Dawn was a support official at the Seoul Olympics.
Donating her medals to raise money
Dawn went on to help support the sports effort in Australia. In an effort to raise money for the Australian Commonwealth Games, Dawn offered her medals at an auction. The medals were bought by one man at the auction. Because of his admiration for Dawn, he presented them back to her.
Dawn Fraser is an Australian swimming legend and an inspiration to our youth. Australia thanks you, Dawn.
Dawn is banned from swimming
In 1964 rightly or wrongly, Dawn felt the wrath of officialdom and was suspended and banned for 10 years from swimming. No official reason was ever given.
Since Dawn was always playful and not fond of rules, it could have been because she marched in the opening ceremony without permission, wore a non-regular swim suit in a semi-final or stole a flag from the Japanese Emperor's palace in Tokyo.
Although none of those things seem to warrant a 10 year ban from swimming, that is unfortunately what happened to Dawn.
Her response was to say "I guess it retired me four years earlier than I wanted to retire." Australia didn't forget Dawn however. The following year she was named Australian of the Year in recognition of her great talent and contribution to Australian sports.
The World honours Dawn
at the Olympics
The world showed her the appreciation and gratitude for what she had given to the sport of swimming at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Dawn went to the games as Sports Ambassador for Australia and to motivate our Olympic team.
At the Olympic Games, Dawn had the honour to carry and pass the Olympic Torch to Muhammad Ali for him to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony.
She was further honoured at the Opening Ceremony along with other world legends: American long jumper Bob Beamon, Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson, American track and field star Carl Lewis, American diver Greg Louganis and Romania gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
It was at these games that Dawn suffered a heart attack. She believes she would not have survived her angina attack if her daughter, Dawn-Lorraine, had not urged her to fight.