Donna de Varona, Cathy Ferguson and Anne Warner Cribbs pose for photo during the Team USA 2019 reunion.
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum photo
Donna de Varona, Cathy Ferguson and Anne Warner Cribbs vividly recall their experiences at the Games.

A quick conversation: Donna de Varona, Cathy Ferguson and Anne Warner Cribbs


As the 1960 U.S. Olympic Swim Team prepared to travel to the Rome 1960 Olympic Games, the female members of the team gathered to figure out an important aspect of the trip: Who would room with  13-year-old Donna de Varona?

“They drew straws to room with me,” de Varona said with a laugh, noting that Molly Botkin drew the short straw and became like an older sister.

Listen: “Are you sure you are going to do this? Because you’re going to train like an Olympian.”

“We were like, ‘That 13-year-old is going to be on our Olympic team?’ ” said Anne Warner Cribbs, who was 15 at the time but seemed like an adult to de Varona. “Donna you were a great teammate even though you were a little kid on the team.”

Four years later, at Tokyo 1964, the 17-year-old de Varona was an elder statesman compared to 16-year-old Cathy Ferguson. de Varona won gold there in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and the 400 individual medley.


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