(June 6, 1905-May 20, 1963). Euphrasia Louise Donnelly was born in Indianapolis to Maurice and Sarah Donnelly as one of eight children. Called Fraze by family, she started swimming at age nine at the Hoosier Athletic Club (H.A.C.), winning a cake in her first competition. She competed primarily for H.A.C., though she was also affiliated over the years with Rhodius Park, McClure Beach, and the Riviera Club. By high school, she was regularly winning races and held state championships for six years. 

Fraze is in mid-jump into the pool as a crowd watches.
Fraze Louise Donnelly, ca. 1924 Credit: Warsaw Times-Union View Source

In May 1924, the Hoosier Athletic Club hosted an exhibition event to raise funds to send Donnelly to compete for a spot on the Olympic team. She qualified for the 1924 United States Olympic team by finishing third in the women’s 100-meter freestyle qualifying event in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce paid to send Donnelly and her mother to the Paris Olympics. Even after arriving in France, her spot was not guaranteed, and Donnelly was thought to have been displaced multiple times. However, not only did she compete, she won gold in the women’s 400-meter medley relay. While abroad, Donnelly also swam in other international competitions; she was on the winning relay team in a meet against British swimmers in Harrow-on-the-Hill, England. Donnelly also won the 100-meter freestyle event at the Tailteann Games in Dublin, Ireland. 

After her return, the Hoosier Athletic Club held a meet in her honor, announced her as the women’s team captain, and honored her at a dinner for high-achieving athletes. Other wins in 1924 included the national junior 220-yard freestyle and the Indiana-Kentucky Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) indoor fancy diving, 50-yard, 440-yard, and 500-yard freestyle events. 

Four young women stand together. They are all in swimsuits.
Olympics 400-meter relay team (left to right: Marichen Westlau, Ethel Lackie, Fraze Donnelly, Gertrude Ederle), 1924 Credit: Warsaw Times-Union View Source

In May 1925, the H.A.C. won the Indiana-Kentucky A.A.U. championship, where Donnelly won both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-meter freestyle. Donnelly’s last A.A.U. championship before turning professional was held locally at the Broad Ripple Park pool in August 1925. In her final national amateur appearance, she came from behind to win the 100-yard freestyle. 

In September 1925, Donnelly became a swimming instructor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a post that she held until 1931. During this time, she was a member of the American Red Cross lifesaving corps and held an examiner’s certificate. Donnelly continued to swim competitively into the late 1920s, including winning a nine-mile professional swim race in Toledo, Ohio, in April 1928.   

In June 1930, the Indianapolis City Parks Board Indianapolis City Parks Board (see Department of Parks and Recreation) appointed Donnelly to be a women’s swimming guard for the summer, and she was chosen again for the position in 1931. Her engagement to Bruce Raymond (Ray) Bungard was announced in May 1931, though they did not marry until November 1934. In the 1930s, Donnelly participated in community events, such as pool dedications, speaking events, water safety demonstrations, and lifesaving contests. She worked as a swimming instructor at the Spink Wawasee Hotel in Syracuse, Indiana, during summer 1932. In April 1933, she became the women’s/girls’ swimming and diving instructor for the new Riviera Club in Indianapolis. 

Donnelly moved to Terre Haute in the 1930s but continued to work at the Riviera Club. By 1942, she oversaw the club’s swimming school. She and her husband moved to Warsaw, Indiana, in 1944. There, Donnelly worked as a laboratory and x-ray technician at Murphy Medical Center and enjoyed living near Little Chapman Lake. Donnelly’s husband died in May 1952, and she married her second husband, Richard Berlin, five years later in 1957. Donnelly died at age 57 after an illness.

Revised November 2023

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