Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dawn Fraser (Thanks, Matt)

Dawn Fraser is another sports person.

I'm dreading this post less than the prevous ones.

I'm not sure why.

It could be that....well, I think perhaps Fraser is known for a more individualist sport, rather than a team game thing.

I think I have issues with team sports, honestly.   In high school, I was awful at them. I was that person who was usually chosen last...or second last. I had this awful P.E teacher at one point who would talk about me in third person to the other players. Instead of talking TO me, he would talk ABOUT me. It's hard to explain really. Let's just say it was an unpleasant experience. We'll leave it at that.

Anyway, I don't have much love in my heart for the team sports. To me, it's not about people working together. It's about one person being hated because they let everyone else down.

I know the solo stuff has teams too. And I guess if you are on a team, people are still counting on you. It's just different to me though. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that although there is team stuff, there's also alone time stuff. You get that space and time to be ALONE and free. That all appeals to an introvert like me.

That would be funny if I'm saying all this and Fraser ended up being part of some team-game thing.

I'm pretty sure she was a runner or swimmer though...something involving racing.

I also know she's indigenous. That's usually interesting.

Besides that, I don't know much about her.

I shall go learn.

She is a swimmer. Cool. I actually like swimming.

I did a quick glance of Lord Wiki, and I see nothing about her being indigenous. I'm shocked. I TOTALLY thought she was aboriginal. What's the deal here? Maybe I confused her with Cathy Freeman? But I thought they were both indigenous.

Perhaps she's indigenous and doesn't know it. That happens a lot, right? Maybe I'm psychic about such things.

Baby Dawn(whose ancestors apparently don't have a 40,000+ year history in Australia) was born in Balmain on 4 September 1937. Her birthday is a day after my mom's. She's a Virgo. Don Bradman was a Virgo too.

The birthday website says she was a 6 in numerology. That's the family-oriented number.

Fraser was discovered when she was fourteen. A coach spotted her while she was swimming at the local sea baths.

Awesome. I used to dream of being discovered. It sounds so lovely and easy. You just naturally go about your little life. Then someone spots you and decides you deserve wealth and fame. You get to bypass all that stuff of begging people to notice you. Although with some of these discovered folks that might come later when they've become a has-been.

I'm going to read Fraser's swimming stuff.

She won four Olympic Gold medals.

She won six Commonwealth Game medals.

She held the 100 meter freestyle record for fifteen years. She was able to swim that in less than a minute.

Jack just converted 100 meters for me (cause yes my child is smarter than I am). It's 300 feet. I still can't quite picture the distance. I'm not good at that.

Fraser did controversial stuff at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. She marched in opening ceremonies with an older swimming suit. She didn't like the new suit; felt it was less comfortable. She might have also climbed a flagpole to steal a flag. So? Maybe she was part of a game of Capture the Flag!

The Australia Swimmers Union (ASU) was angry with Fraser. They placed her on a ten year ban. She then retired.

Why did people think she stole the flag? I don't know. Fraser herself denies it. She said she would have had to swim in a dirty disgusting moat.

The flag she might have stolen belonged to the emperor. It sounds like he had a sense of humor about the thing. He gave her a flag as a souvenir.

In 1968, the ASU changed their mind about suspending Fraser for ten years. They asked her to play in the games, but she didn't have enough time to practice and all that.

What did Fraser do after her Olympic Career ended? She became a publican in a hotel. I'm guessing publican means you own a pub? Maybe not. It could mean she owned the hotel? The word comes from some Catholic thing.  It involves collecting taxes.

Anyway, for now let's just say she was involved with a hotel.

She also did swimming coaching.

In 1988, she joined the world of politics. She took the seat of Balmain for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. Didn't I recently write about the seat of Balmain?

Yeah, I did. It's the seat that Verity Firth is in. Lord Wiki just informed me of something interesting. Firth the sister of one of the Chasers.

So these days the seat is filled with a comedian's sister.

Back in late 80's and early 90's, it was filled with an Olympic swimmer.

The seat has been almost always occupied by a Labor politician since 1907. I guess that means Balmain is pretty much on the left.

Fraser herself was an independent. I'm guessing she was on the left though....just because I can't imagine the voters letting her in otherwise. Well, I suppose they could have abandoned their political ideologies because they thought it would be so cool to have a famous swimmer as their representative.

The Balmain seat actually disappeared after Fraser's run. I don't know why. It was gone from 1991-2007. Why did it go away? Why did it come back?

In 2005, Fraser was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

In 1998, Fraser was voted Australia's greatest female athlete in history. That's a pretty big honor.

In 1964, she was Australian of the Year. Was that before or after the ASU suspended her?

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki. I shall go find other websites now.

Here's her official site. It's nice and blue like the water.

I'll read her biography page.

In 1999, she was given the Award of World Athlete of the Century. Wow. Really? I mean not that I don't think she deserves that. But aren't there other famous athletes? What made the people choose her over everyone else?

She's the youngest of eight children. I bet that girl got a lot of attention.

In 1996, Fraser was honored at the Atlanta Olympic Games as being one of the seven best athletes. I wonder who the other six were....

I can't find the information.

Oh well.

Here's a FAQ page. This could be interesting.

Dawn Fraser does not currently have a job, but she works for her sponsors. I would guess that's still kind of a job.

She has a grandson. She has dogs. She has a caravan.

Before she became a swimmer, she wanted to be a doctor.

She likes traveling around Australia in her caravan. I wish I could do that! Actually, I'd probably prefer to travel around in a regular car, and then stop at hotels and holiday parks. I think it would scare me to ride in something so big. And Tim hates driving big things, so I doubt it would happen.

Fraser has asthma. She says that's why she swam. It helped her. I guess it helps get your lungs in shape? She said she needed to do something athletic, and swimming was cheap. Her family didn't have a lot of money. What she had wanted to do more than swimming was ride horses.

The four famous people she wants to have dinner with are Nicole Kidman, Nelson Mandela, Oprah, and Morgan Freeman.

She likes dark chocolate. I prefer milk chocolate.

This page has even more facts about Fraser.

She likes red wine.

She likes the movie My Fair Lady.

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.

For most of my life, I pictured rain in an airplane when I heard that. I thought it was all very surreal.

She likes Elton John and Willie Nelson.

She likes to read autobiographies.

I like reading autobiographies too.

Dawn Fraser has a bath named after her. That's a swimming bath, not a bathtub bath. I'd like to swim in one someday. They look so fun.

I wonder if this is the bath where the coach discovered Fraser. It's in Balmain so I'm guessing that it was.

There seems to be a lot of baths like this in Australia. I wonder if we have any in the United States. I don't think I've ever seen one.

This page
has some information about Fraser.....

She began swimming at the age of five. I imagine that's the age a lot of children begin least these days.

When did Jack learn to swim? I guess he was six. No, wait. He was five.

When Fraser was fourteen, she did a race for amateurs. She ended up being disqualified because people believed she was part of a professional club. Was there merit behind the accusations, or was she just too good to be true?

Sadly her closest brother died when she was thirteen. The last things he said to her were words of swimming encouragement.

The swimming coach that discovered her offered to train her for free. That's pretty damn nice. Although I'm sure he knew he'd get something awesome out of it.

At the 1960's Olympics, Fraser refused to go to bed at the required time of 9:30. She felt she was a big girl, and could stay up as long as she wanted. On one night, she supposedly stayed out until three in the morning. Then she refused to swim in a particular race. She said she hadn't had enough time to prepare. Her teammates were quite angry with her.

Before the Tokyo Olympics, Fraser lost her mom in a car accident. So, I'm sure she had all that on her mind.

For some reason, people swimming in first three days were not supposed to join Olympic ceremonies. Fraser disobeyed. She seems to do a lot of disobeying. I guess she had quite the independent spirit.

The flag stealing thing happened in the wee hours of the morning. Fraser was arrested. She apologized. The emperor forgave her.

I think it was years later that she denied it ever happening.

What is the truth? Did she do it, but then later decided to revise history?

Or did she NOT do it back then? Maybe when accused, she liked the idea of the crime so she didn't try to deny anything.

Fraser got married at one point; had a child. The marriage didn't last.

At the time this website was written, Fraser lived in her parent's old home...the one she was born in. That's pretty cool. We live in my parent's old home. It's not the one I was born in though.

This article says that Fraser boycotted the recent Beijing Olympics. She did this to protest China's treatment of Tibetans. And I do feel for the Tibetans. I think the Chinese are bastards in that regard. But she went to the Japanese Olympics. Did she know how terrible they were to the Koreans? And she went to the American Olympics. What about what they did to the Africans and Native Americans?

I guess the difference is those things all happened in the PAST. Americans, Japanese, and Australians are trying (often not so successfully) to make the wrongs right. But still.....

I think it's fine to protest and long as it's not done while riding the high horse. Australians and Americans have no right to do so.

Fraser says, When you hear the Tibetans tell their terrible stories about what the Chinese government has done to them, and what their forces have done to them, it is just awful.

Yes, and so are the stories told by the Koreans, the Australian Aborigines, the Native Americans, the African-Americans, the Chinese in Australia, etc.

I think now I shall move onto my video watching.

Here's an interview with Fraser. It was done in 2009.

She's a patron of golf.

She says that Esther Williams was one of her heroes. That's a famous swimmer, right?

Yeah. Lord Wiki says she was an American swimmer and movie star.

It sounds like she's very close to her grandson. I hope I'm close to my grandchildren...if I have grandchildren.

Here's a video about the Tokyo games. I love these old news broadcasts. She won in 1964. She won in 1960. She won in 1956. She would have probably won in 1968 if she hadn't been suspended.

I was hoping to find a video of Fraser doing Dancing With the Stars, but I couldn't find anything. I did find an article about it though...another story of Fraser getting in trouble. A part of me looks down at Fraser for getting in trouble so much. But who am I to talk? I get myself in trouble a lot too. For me, it's not rule breaking and flag stealing. It's usually about speaking my mind. People say and do things that bother me, and I don't keep my mouth shut about it. I tend to get in a lot of personal conflicts.

The article says Fraser was voted off the dance show. She wasn't happy about that, and complained about the judges.

She feels what's unfair is that people her age were expected to do as well as people who are very young. Fraser feels people's bodies change. That should be taken into account.

I kind of agree with that. Some could say that's age prejudice. I think it's more realism. Tim does races sometimes. In the running races, there are age divisions. There are different age groups, and there's a winner for each group.

Despite her annoyance with the judges, Fraser says she still had fun.

As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of these reality contest shows. Yeah, maybe some people are discovered. But for the most part, I think it's smashes people's spirits.

Here's a 2007 ABC interview with Fraser.

Fraser says her brother died of Leukemia. That's one of the thing that terrifies me. I actually don't think of it much. I worry more about Jack falling, choking, or getting kidnapped. But once in awhile, cancer will come to my mind and get me really scared. I guess what cheers me up is that you DO hear survival stories. There is hope.

Fraser says there were no cars in her days...just horses and carts. Really? That would have been in the 1930's and 1940's. I thought there were cars back then. I'm so bad with technology history. Or maybe it was just in the Balmain area? My parents were just up in Makinac Island, and that STILL doesn't have cars. It's all horses and carts. My parents got to actually ride their own cart! They rode around the island on their own. I'm quite impressed.

Fraser says, I was brought up to believe that my mother and father were my bosses and no-one else and I guess that played right through my life.

Oh! She reminds me SO much of Jack. He's totally that way. That kid does NOT want anyone telling him what to do. He will usually listen to me, although he likes to declare, you're not the boss of me. But he hates other adults telling him what to do. Like Fraser, he's very rebellious. He's very high-spirited.

For the most part, I admire that in him. I think what works is that I'm quite spirited myself. At times, I stand behind him in his protests. Go Jack! When I disagree with him, I'm pretty good at fighting back. Reasoning often helps. It usually ends with him realizing I was totally right, and he apologizes. Later, I realize he was a little right too, and I tell him that.

Fraser's father was very strict. He used a strap on them. Ouch.

Oh no. This is so sad. The car accident that killed Fraser'r mom? Fraser was the driver. Poor girl. I can't imagine. I want to reach out and give her a huge hug.

Fraser said she's now scared of driving in the rain. The strange thing is the police reports say it wasn't raining the night the accident happened. Fraser feels it was. That's so odd. I wonder what happened. Was it some kind of hallucination? Did they go through the sprinklers?

At one point, Fraser became a bit of a snob...after traveling to Hawaii. She came home and bitched at her dad for having an outside toilet.

Yeah, I'd probably bitch about that too.

Fraser said she didn't at first like that swimming coach that discovered her. She didn't want to work with him. She wanted to just have fun. She had seem him working with other kids, and the work didn't look enjoyable to her.

I can understand that.

Here Fraser said that she WAS involved with stealing the flag. Maybe Lord Wiki just got his facts wrong.

She actually took the ASU to court to fight the ban. And she won.

Her ex-husband gambled too much. That's why the marriage didn't last.

There are rumors that Fraser is gay. She's not quite, but she did have an affair with a woman.

Yikes. If I'm reading this right, it seems Fraser somewhat admires Pauline Hanson. She doesn't like immigrants coming to Australia. She wants Australia to help the people already there, rather than helping new people. Why not help both?

At least she's supportive towards indigenous Australians. She's not one of these White-Only type people.

She's a bit like Arthur Callwell, I suppose. If I remember correctly, he was keen on helping indigenous Australians, but less into helping nonEuropean people from elsewhere.

Ah! There's an Andrew Denton interview! Cool. I'll read this, and then I'm going to join my family for a swim. Maybe I'll pretend to be Dawn Fraser!

Her ancestry is Scottish.

Denton remarks that getting over the death of one's brother takes a long time to get over.

Fraser responds that she's STILL not over it. I sometimes like that woman.

She talks about how she loves the water. She says for her it was like a love affair. That's how I feel about Australia. My obsession is kind of like a love affair.

After the 1960's Rome Olympics, Fraser got to share a meal with the Queen. They chatted a bit before the meal. Then Menzie's wife approached her and said something snobby like I hope you know how to act in front of a queen. She asked if Fraser knew how to use a knife and fork. Fraser said no, she didn't. But she'd just learn by watching the queen because she was sitting on her right-hand side. Go Fraser!

Was Menzies wife always so snobby and condescending? I hope not.

After Fraser went to America, she came back with an American accent. Oops. Is she one of us accent confused people?

From what I'm reading, it seems the big car accident wasn't really Fraser's fault. She swerved to avoid hitting a truck.

Her family lied to her for several years....telling Fraser that her mother had a heart attack and died before the accident.

When Fraser was writing her autobiography, her agent asked her if she wanted the book to be honest. Fraser said yes. She looked at the police reports and learned it was indeed the accident that killed her mother.

Very very sad.....

Anyway, that's it for now.

I'm gonna go swim.


  1. Never knew about Dawn meeting the Queen. I can well imagine Dame Pattie Menzies would have said that to Dawn.

  2. Andrew,

    It seemed a bit snobby to me. Maybe I should add her to the list--find out more about this Menzies character.

  3. Hi Dina ,
    I didn't know she supported some of Pauline Hanson veiws, thats a shame, i thought she would know better than that.
    I would say that Dawn has that Aussie larrikin characteristic that is always is getting in trouble with authority.
    My understanding with the whole flag stealing affair is that she was involved in the incident but didn't actually steal the flag, and refused to reveal who was the one who stole the flag, so she was band.
    I have a little story about Dawn, my Uncle went to the Mexico Olympic Games for boxing (i think he was the first aboriginal to go to the olypmics) and he had just lost his bout and was pretty upset. Dawn found him and took him under her wings and looked after him

  4. Dina, doubt Dame Pattie ever did anything interesting. Perhaps she painted and made tapestry in Haverbrack Road, Malvern. She was a dinosaur from a different time. But her husband, Pig Iron Bob, is perhaps worthy of a post, if you haven't already. I don't recall that you have. Great personal tale from Matt.

  5. Matt: The Pauline Hanson stuff surprised me. I'm kind of used to people who have those beliefs about immigrants so..... Well, I can disagree with Fraser's view on that, but still like her for other stuff. Like helping your uncle! I love that.

    I almost made the same mistake again. I was about to argue with you. "He can't be the first Aboriginal to go to the Olympics.
    Dawn Fraser went before him!" Why do I keep thinking she's indigenous?

    Andrew: Too late. I already added her to the list. I'm sure I'll talk about her husband as well. I love Matt's story too : )

  6. Hi,

    Dawn Fraser is the female Don Bradman. She might not have won as much gold as a Michael Phelps or others but she was dominant in an era when female athletes were not that common.

    Her greatness comes from winning a gold in the same event in 3 consecutive olympics - a feat that still hasn't been done since. Phelps might give it a shake in 2012. And also swimmers in Australia have hero worship especially if you bring back gold.

    The woman is smart, has the brains to follow the best football team in the world - Wests Tigers (formally Balmain Tigers)


    Publican is the owner of a pub
    Baths are like olympic size swimming pools that water comes in from the ocean. Basically you find them at any beach and the ones in Balmain are actually named after her.

    I actually worked at the Sydney Olympics and I and others can attest to how it practically was the "Dawn Games". We very quickly got "Dawned" out and I love the woman.

    I dont see what the big deal was about the flag, just imagine what she could have accomplished if she hadn't been banned


  7. Katie,

    I'm getting the idea you're a Fraser fan : )

    We saw the bath pools in Australia, but unfortunately never swam in them.
    We saw a beautiful one in Kiama, but unfortunately did not have a swimming suit/costume. We did put our feet in though.

    Do you think they have any in the United States? I haven't heard of any. Have you traveled around here a lot...or just sticking to Texas?

    I can imagine it was exciting to work at the Olympics.

    Yeah...totally agree about the flag. It was ridiculous to ban her. They pretty much shot themselves in the foot. Quite ridiculous.

  8. Frasers a real proud white aussie, like most,so called, white aussies. And to think I looked up to her as a child and it turns out she would've hated me cause I'm aboriginal. Now I wouldn't give her the time of day, in fact I wouldn't even acknowledge it(d fraser)if I was in same room with it