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Dawn Fraser, 1963

David Moore

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned (sheet: 47.6 cm x 35.5 cm, image: 43.0 cm x 28.5 cm)

Dawn Fraser AO MBE (b. 1937) swimming champion, had a stranglehold on the women’s 100 metres freestyle from 1956 to 1964. The youngest of eight children, Fraser grew up in the Sydney suburb of Balmain and took up swimming partly because it helped alleviate her asthma. She scored her first national championship title in the 220 yards freestyle in 1955. Later that year, she set new Australian records in four events and in early 1956 won the national 110 and 220 yards freestyle titles, the latter in world record time. At the Melbourne Olympics, Fraser established another world record in winning the 100m freestyle and was part of the gold medal-winning 4 x 100 metres relay team. She won the 100 metres again in Rome in 1960 and in Tokyo in 1964, making her the first swimmer, male or female, to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics. In total, between 1956 and 1964, Fraser broke thirty-nine world records, won four gold and four silver Olympic medals, and became the first woman to swim 100 metres freestyle in under a minute. She might have won the race again, but for a competition ban of ten years imposed after she was arrested for souveniring an Olympic flag. In 1999, Fraser was named World’s Greatest Living Female Water Sports Champion by the International Olympic Committee; and Australian Female Athlete of the Century by the Sports Australia Hall of Fame. Australian of the Year in 1964, she later worked as a publican and served a term in the New South Wales Parliament as the independent member for Balmain. Fraser was named a Living National Treasure in 1998 and in 2000 was one of seven Australian women athletes involved in lighting the cauldron at the Sydney Olympic Games.

David Moore (1947–2003) began his career in photojournalism in Sydney before taking up a job with Life and Time magazines in London in 1952. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he carried out assignments in the UK, Europe, Africa and the USA, his work appearing in publications such as the Observer, the New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He returned to Sydney in the 1970s. Moore photographed Fraser at a Melbourne pool during training for the Tokyo Olympics.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1998

Accession number: 1998.15

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

David Moore (age 36 in 1963)

Dawn Fraser AO MBE (age 26 in 1963)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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