lympic swimmer and Australian ICON born in Balmain, Sydney in 1937. 'Our Dawn', as she is affectionately known, is the only swimmer to take the same individual title at three consecutive Olympic Games, winning the 100 metres freestyle at Melbourne in 1956, Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964. In 1956 she also won gold in the 4x100 metres freestyle.
Dawn was the youngest of 8 children and suffering from asthma found that swimming helped her breathing. Her favourite brother Don encouraged her swimming by taking her to the pool but died when she was 13.
Besides training 5 hours a day, Dawn worked 3 jobs, her first job being an apprentice dressmaker at age 14.
Coach Harry Gallagher spotted her swimming and offered to train her for free. When he moved to Adelaide, Dawn followed.
Harry perfected Dawn's swimming style and in 1956 she qualified for the Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Gold medals also came her way at the Commonwealth Games, winning 2 gold at the Cardiff Games in 1958 and eventually winning a total of 6 in her career.
World records fell easily to her amazing talent and she held an incredible 27 over her career.In 1962 she became the first woman to break the one minute barrier for 100 metres, a record which stood for many years.
In 1964 her mother died and she almost gave up swimming but fortunately for us she kept going to win her third 100 metres gold in Tokyo.
In 1964 she felt the wrath of officialdom and was banned for 10 years for stealing a flag from the Japanese Emperor's palace in Tokyo. This ban was later reduced to 4 years.
Despite this, she was named Australian of the Year in 1964 and in 1988 was named Australia's greatest female athlete.
After Tokyo she married and had a daughter, but the marriage didn't last.
From 1988-91 she represented Balmain in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
Over the years she has stuck to her birthplace, Balmain, even running a cheese shop and being a popular publican at one stage. A swimming pool is named for her and who knows if a future champion will emerge from that pool. Keep your eyes on the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
At the 1996 Olympic Games, in Atlanta, Dawn passed the Olympic Torch to Muhammad Ali for him to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony.
It was the larrikin in Dawn which endeared her to the Australian public and which landed her in hot water in Tokyo all those years ago.
Dawn holds the record for the most Olympic medals won by an Australian - 8 in total - 4 gold and 4 silver.
Dawn is a fair "Dinkum Aussie" and that is why she put her name to this web site.