Donalda Smith has been involved in synchronized swimming since Canada’s earliest years in sport. In 1953, Donalda was asked by her daughter, Margaret, to coach her and a friend who had both recently taken up the sport. The duo won a silver medal in that year’s national championships and Donalda was hooked. Over the years Donalda has amassed a prolific resume as coach, judge, and administrator.

Starting first with the Vancouver “Y” Swim Club, followed by the Catholic Youth Club (CYC), the Burnaby Dolphinas, and the Arbutus Swim Club, Donalda trained synchro-swimmers for over four decades. In 1975, she coached in Cuba and conducted coaching seminars there in 1977, 1981, and 1985, as well as conducting seminars in South America in 1981.

Donalda’s judging career began in 1957 at the first synchro swim competition, held at the Kelowna Regatta. She judged BC championship meets and BC section meets from 1959 to 1990, and Canadian championships from 1966 to 1989. In addition to the Canadian national championships, she also judged at the US outdoor and AAU indoor championships from 1968 to 1980.

At the international level, Donalda has judged numerous events, a few of which are: the 1970 Copenhagen International; Expo ’70 (in Japan); the Pan American Games (1971, 1975, 1983); the world aquatic championships (1973, 1975, 1982), the Pan Pacific championships (1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981); and the 1984 Olympic Games. As well as judging, Donalda conducted judge’s seminars in Mexico, and was a member of various Canadian and international judges committees.

Donalda’s administrative career was equally diverse. She may be best known for her work on the CASSA handbook, which she developed in 1959, and revised several times over the years. She also streamlined the rules of Canadian competition to bring them in line with international competition. Donalda assisted with the development and implementation of the highly successful incentive program, “Star Awards”, that was later adopted by both the national and international associations. In 1974, she headed the committee that organized the first International Conference on Synchronized Swimming.

Donalda’s years of service have been recognized through numerous awards including Synchro Canada’s first Distinguished Service Award in 1971, and the Order of Canada in 1983.