Donna De Varona


Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Malta

At age 13, Donna de Varona was the youngest member of the United States swimming team at the Olympic Games Rome 1960. The San Diego native broke 18 world records by the age of 17, and won two gold medals when she competed in the 400-meter individual medley and the 4×100 freestyle relay at the Tokyo 1964 Games. She was named Female Athlete of the Year by both the Associated Press and United Press International. Following retirement at competitive swimming at age 17, de Varona began a successful sportscasting career. She was both the first female sportscaster and first woman to cover the Olympics for television in the United States, covering the Olympic Games for ABC in 1968, 1972 and 1976. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from UCLA. She helped co-found the Women’s Sports Foundation and served as the organization’s first president from 1976-84. She also worked as a consultant to the United States Senate, specifically regarding the Amateur Sports Act to give women and minorities greater access to athletics facilities and money. De Varona was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports and International Swimming Hall of Fame.