Friday, July 14, 2017

The Beauty of Sport, Part Four: Donna de Varona

Donna de Varona was already a swimming legend before she distinguished herself in the 1964 Olympics, in which she competed.

This photo of her is from the October 9, 1964 cover of Life magazine.  The 1964 Olympics in Tokyo began on October 10.

Though Ms. de Varona made the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, the swimming event in which she held the world record, 400-meter individual medley, was not a women's event at the 1960 Rome Games.  However, it debuted as an Olympic event in Tokyo. She won it handily, and she also was on the wining women's 4×100-meter freestyle relay team. In addition to these gold-medal victories, she'd won gold in the same events at the 1963 Pan American Games in Sao Paulo.

Ms. de Varona went on to be a respected sportscaster at ABC.  She regularly covered the swimming events at the Olympics for as long as ABC News and Sports, the house Roone Arledge built, had the broadcasting rights to the Games.  She's also served five terms on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and has also been a very vocal activist for Title IX, the clause in the education law that gives girls equal access to scholastic sports.

Fun fact:  Television actress and director Joanna Kerns is Donna de Varona's younger sister.  How do you explain the fact that they don't have the same last name?  Simple: Joanna married someone named Kerns and Donna did not. :-D   

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