Famous Female Divers: Dottie Frazier

A conversation about influential early female divers is incomplete without mention of Dottie Frazier, one of the sport’s pioneers.

The ocean was part of Dottie Frazier’s life from the very beginning. Born in California in 1922, she was spearfishing by the time she was 10 with a mask home made by her father from pieces of glass, inner-tube and tape. She soon became adept at freediving, and also spent time as a deckhand and fixing boat engines in her youth.

Frazier began teaching freediving in the 1940s, which was not as popular as it is today. In 1955, she was certified as the first-ever female scuba diving instructor worldwide, despite many considering the job too demanding for women at the time.

dottie frazier
Dottie Frazier teaches a diving class in 1957. (Image copyright Dottie Frazier)

This was only the beginning, as Frazier went onto a lot of firsts: she was the first woman to own and operate a dive shop, named the Penguin, as well as the first woman to ever become a hard-hat diver, and worked as one for a couple of years. She created her own line of wetsuits, as well as creating some for other brands and was, once again, the first woman to ever commercially produce wetsuits and drysuits.

Not only are these remarkable achievements in themselves, but she also completed them in the 1940s and 50s, at a time when women were not exactly expected to be independent and run businesses.

And while doing all of this she also raised four sons — who all became divers of course. Consequently, she created a family dive club for diving couples with children. Members would meet regularly to take turns in diving and watching the kids.

Frazier is a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and you can read more about her adventures in her book, Trailblazer.

Images Copyright Dottie Frazier