During the 2012 Olympic Games, much was made of Michael Phelps and his quest to become the first man to win the same swimming event in three consecutive Olympic Games.
Notice I said man, not person. That’s because two woman had previously accomplished the feat: Australian Dawn Fraser had done it more than half a century earlier in the 100-meter freestyle, and Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi accomplished the feat in the 200-meter backstroke in 1996.
Fraser first won the 100-meter freestyle at the 1956 Olympic Games in her home country of Australia. At the time, Fraser was 19 years old. Four years later, she returned to claim the Olympic crown again in the same event, and she repeated as champion again in 1964.
During her career, Fraser became the first woman to swim the event under a minute, which she did in 1962. She won her final Olympic gold medal in 1964 at the age of 27, and she held the world record until 1973.
Fraser was certainly known for her prowess in the pool, but her antics outside the pool were nearly as notable. The 1964 Games brought controversy in which Fraser was accused of swimming a moat and climbing a flagpole to steal the Olympic flag. To this day, Fraser still denies the allegations.
Fraser also made waves at the same Olympic Games when she wore a swimsuit made by a company other than the Australian Olympic sponsor. The suit was more comfortable, she said.
After her Olympic career, Fraser was elected to public office.