Legends of Diving Articles
First Female Instructor in 1955
Dottie Frazier was born in July, 1922 in Long Beach, CA,
a female who should have been a male according to her dad. At
that moment he decided that he was going to teach her all the
things he would have taught a son.
Swimming by age 3, Dottie became the youngest YMCA to receive an
unofficial membership card from the director of the Y since she
had been going with her father for over two years. By the age of
7, she was the youngest girl to perform in the water Ballet and
won many swimming
and board diving awards. Dottie went on later to teach
skin and scuba diving for the YMCA in an old basement
swimming pool in downtown Long Beach. She was rowing her
own skiff at 5, and Dottie knew the ins and outs of
fishing as she had lived aboard boats more than on land.
By 10, she was using one of the masks her dad had made
out of pieces of a fire hose, glass, tape, glue, and
straps from an old inner tube. She became especially
proficient at spearing fish. By the time she
was a teenager, getting lobsters became her specialty.
She competed in Diving Derbies against men, frequently
Dottie did not follow the mainstream way of thought where
women were to have jobs in the secretarial field, even
though she did try secretarial college for a few months.
Instead her idea of heaven consisted of gutting sharks and
standing waist-deep in fish. She was what you would call a
Growing up on the sea made it easy for Dottie to find work
on commercial fishing boats as a deck hand, cook, and on all
day fishing boats as galley girl for over 10 years. It was
Dottie Frazier in 1955 with a Golden Cabrillo
this time that she entered every skin diving contest
that came up and was the only female competitor. She had taken a lot
prizes but she had never captured a first place.
Dottie was also known to be able to tear apart outboard motor apart
and could be found tinkering with engines until they were perfectly
At only 100 pounds, Dottie would spearfish bringing up groupers
nearly as big as she was catching them on a breath or two of air.
One 150 pound grouper drug her for almost a mile she recalls.
In 1940 Dottie started teaching skin diving classes and became the
Worlds first female Scuba Instructor in the United States in 1955.
She enrolled in the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors
Certification Course which was, at that time, considered too
physically demanding for a female to complete. Dottie proved the
male dominated diving world wrong when she took top honors in the
class for waterworks amid resentment from the other students who
were all men. She later became the first woman hard hat diver but
she felt too restricted and gave it up 2 years later.
Expanding to new adventures, Dottie became owner of her own dive
shop called the Penguin. She was the first woman in the world to own
and operate a dive shop! Dottie then began manufacturing her own
line of wetsuits as well as making suits for US Divers, Healthways,
and Navy UDT teams. Once again, Dottie became a first, as she was
the first woman to commercially produce both dry suits and wet
Amid all of this, Dottie raised four sons who all became divers.
Soon after her third son was born, Dottie started a club called
“Aqua Families” which consisted of diving couples with children.
They met every weekend. Husbands and wives would take turns watching
the children and diving.
Dottie was honored as a Life member of the Long Beach Neptunes in
June of 2001, and became a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame
in March 2000.
Dottie is the oldest and only surviving member of the original
founding members of the second oldest diving club in the USA – the
Long Beach Neptunes. Dottie is a true pioneer. Her favorite hobbies
are riding her motorcycle surfing and diving. She over came sexism
and prejudice to succeed as an instructor and businesswoman in the
dive shop, Penguin, in 1959
Portage Quarry Recreation Club, Inc.
12701 South Dixie
Bowling Green OH, 43402
©1999-2018 International Legends of Diving
All Rights Reserved