Dottie Frazier, Breaking Scuba Diving Barriers

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Dottie Frazier is the only survivor from her parents. Her father passed away one month short of his 100th birthday, and said to Dottie, from his deathbed, I’m not going to make it to 100, it’s up to you now. Right there and there she was determined that she would be a “winner” and set her target to make that possible. She’s going to turn 100 on 15 July 2022.

Dottie May Frazier and water mixed well. She dove into a bay at age 3 and swam about half a mile. She rowed skiffs at age 5. Her father dropped a coffee pot off his boat and at age 6, Dottie dove down 15 feet deep to retrieve it for her father. Jeannie, her sister slipped off the boat of her fathers’ in Long Beach and she jumped in to rescue her, then age 7.

Dottie Frazer

For the times, Dottie was defiantly a trailblazer. What’s amazing about Dottie isn’t about what she did, but when she did it. In the 1920s, she was ocean swimming, boating, surfing, skin diving, and spearfishing. She was raised as the son her Father never had. She used “one of the masks” her dad created from bits of fire hose, glass, tape, glue and braces from an old inner tube for her, at the ripe old age of 10. She was especially talented at spearfishing and her speciality catches were lobsters, at age 15. Standing tall at 5 feet, and weighing 100 pounds, she was catching groupers (which can grow 7.5 feet long and weigh more than 440 pounds) and lobsters that weighed 25 pounds. She credits her Father for her love of water.

She’s had many premieres in her career. She started teaching freediving in the 1940s and was the first female scuba teacher in the United States in the 1950s. She had to conquer prejudices from scuba diving men who felt that training in scuba diving was too physically difficult for women. She proved them wrong.

She was the first woman to manufacture both drysuits as well as wetsuits, commercially under her own brand, Penguin Suits. (also the name of her dive shop) She became the first woman to own a dive store, where she taught diving courses and sold her own wetsuits. She also trained for two years as the first woman to become a hard-hat diver, and worked for two years in that diving profession. She was a founding member of the dive club Long Beach Neptunes and remains a member to this day.

Dottie Frazer

As well as scuba / freediving, Dottie was the first Girl Scout in Long Beach, was also a bathing suit model who skied on the water and snow and played professional billiards.

She knows how to patch car engines, and used to ride her Harley-Davidson around the city before she sold it in 2019. Yet, she’s still driving a car, and her auto drivers licence has been renewed until 2023, a year after her 100th birthday.

Dottie grows her own vegetables and fruits and still lives in the bungalow she purchased in the 1940’s. She is currently married to her third husband, and raised 4 boys all the while working as a commercial fisher(person). All of her boys are scuba divers.

She was honored in 2019, at the age of 97, with the Historical Diving Society Diving Pioneer Award.

A book has been written about her life called “TrailBlazer, the extraordinary life of Diving Pioneer Dottie Frazier” and was written from her own words.

Yeah, you’re a “winner”, Dottie May Frazier, and celebrating your 100th birthday would be your father’s dream, and your own personal target!

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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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