“It’s a YES from me” says Dawn Fraser to Las Vegas VIP invite for ISL Grand Final showdown

Dawn Fraser Life Membership

Australia’s Olympic swimming legend Dawn Fraser said today she would gratefully accept Konstantin Grigorishin’s kind invitation to attend the International Swimming League Grand Final in Las Vegas next month.

Fraser was stunned when told by Swimming World that Grigorishin would contact her and other swimming stars of the past to his VIP lounge for the grand finale between the London Roar, Energy Standard, Cali Condors and the LA Current on December 20 and 21.

Olympic gold and a Kangaroo in her pouch

Dawn Fraser – Photo Courtesy: Dawn Fraser Collection

“Wow…” said the spritely 82-year-old Fraser, as she touched down in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast airport after attending the Australian Swimmer of the Year Awards in Sydney, where she was presented with Swimming Australia Life Membership.

“I’m available on those dates..and I would be honoured to attend the ISL Grand Final.

“I think the whole concept is fantastic..great for these kids to earn some money for their amazing efforts in the pool…it is putting swimming back on the international stage, where it should be.

“For our swimmers to be earning good money and responding to what has been a fabulous professional league it is what they deserve.

“It is the beginning of a new era for our sport.”

Dawn pictured in sunglasses bottom of group with Jan Cameron (nee Murphy) fourth from the bottom

Photo Courtesy: Dawn Fraser Collection

Ironically it was Fraser who unwittingly at 12 years of age was a pioneer for the swimmers of today – banned by the Australian Swimming Union (ASU) for joining the Leichhardt/Balmain League of Swimmers which was considered to be a professional body and also receiving two-shillings for competing in the Codocks Football Club Christmas picnic swimming races at aged eight.

“All members over the age of 16 could swim for money – about 10 pounds for a big win,” said Fraser, who wrote about it in her autobiography.

“When I first joined the League I would swim for points…and instead of receiving money we would choose a trophy on the presentation night to the value of our points and that was presented to us instead.

“I chose a mantelpiece clock for Mum and Pop with a big face and I won them a nice wireless, knives and forks and plates which were nice things for my parents and a reward for them.

“As for the Christmas races, there were sack races, egg and spoon races and of course swimming races and all the kids were give two-shillings as a Christmas present at the end of the day.”

But it landed young Dawnie in hot water and when she started to first make a name for herself, it was discovered that she had been a member of a professional body of swimmers and as a result she was officially banned by the ASU from taking part in amateur races with the Balmain Amateur Swimming Club for two years.

Fraser had beaten another future Olympic champion Lorraine Crapp in a handicap 55-yards freestyle race at Granville Pool, when ASU started to ask questions about the budding champion from Balmain.

“Apparently someone had found out that I had been a member of a professional body of swimmers and that I had taken two-shillings from Codocks for swimming in the Christmas races,” said Fraser.

“As a result I had been officially banned by the ASU from taking part in amateur races for two years..and it was completely confusing to me…all I wanted to do was swim.

“I had no idea what I had done wrong but it hurt me deeply because I felt excluded and singled out at a time when I desperately wanted to be included.”

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Janelle Elford, 1988 Olympic swimmer for Australia, and daughter Lani Pallister, World Junior Champion, share a joke with the legend Dawn Fraser – Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr, Swimming Australia

Despite protestations and fronting the ASU with herb coach Ray “Chut’ Miranda, Dawn served 18 months of the ban, leaving a sour taste in her mouth for officialdom and especially ASU president Bill Burge-Phillips.

But the rest as they say is history, with Dawn Fraser going on to become the Greatest Olympic athlete of the Century…and it is no wonder Konstantin Grigorishin wants to right the wrongs of the sport and invite Dawn to Mandalay Bay in December.

“Dawn Fraser is a legend and I am going to invite her,” Grigorishin told Swimming World.

“I really hope she can make it to Vegas because it would be fantastic for the whole sport and for our event.

“I know her story and that’s why I would like to invite her. I just love the way she was so disruptive. She took her fight to the water and to those in charge if she thought they were getting it wrong.”

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Dawn Fraser with Aussie Olympians Emma McKeon and Jack McLoughlin. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

And the final word from Dawn.

“Feel free to pass on my details,” she said…..”Vegas in December sounds like the pace to be.”

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