Donna de Varona was already a world record holder at age 13 in the 400 Individual Medley when she competed in the Rome Olympics in the trials of the gold medal winning 400 freestyle relay. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics she captured two gold medals. Her first as a member of the world record breaking 400 freestyle relay and the second in the first edition of the women's 400 Individual medley. In 1965 after breaking some 18 world records she was voted the most outstanding woman athlete in the world by the international press. She then retired from competitive swimming for lack of opportunity and at the age of 17 began a pioneering career in the broadcasting industry.
An Emmy award winning sports journalist, she has covered some 18 Olympic Games. Additionally, she has been awarded 5 honorary doctorates for her groundbreaking and continuing work in education and Olympic sports related federal legislation. (Title IX of the Equal Education Amendments Act and the 1978 Olympic and Amateur Sport Act) Her contributions have earned her an induction into the prestigious Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. She has been a long-standing member of the International Olympic Committee Women in Sport Commission and is a recipient of the IOC Silver Olympic Order. In 2019 she was awarded the United States Olympic and Paralympic Torch award for a lifetime of service.
Inducted into the U. S. Olympic Hall of fame, Ms. de Varona joined elite women athletes in establishing the Women’s Sports Foundation serving as its first President and Chairman. A founding board member of the International Special Olympics Ms. de Varona is a much sought-after contributor to significant sporting events and organizations. As Chairman of the groundbreaking 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup her team delivered the most successful women’s sporting tournament in history. As President of her own marketing and sports events company she worked with the 2028 Los Angeles bid committee to bring the Olympic Games back to the United States. Ms. de Varona is a UCLA graduate and is married to John Pinto. They have two children, John David and Joanna.