"To this day, I still can’t swim, I’m terrified of water. I can’t even tread water,” said Baywatch star Donna D’Errico about her swimming abilities.
Starring as Donna Marco, Donna D’Errico is one of the only actors to have a major role in both Baywatch and its spin-off Baywatch Nights. In the short-lived spin-off crime series, Donna was a nightclub owner in LA that would help Mitch and his team solve mysteries across the city.
Following the cancellation of Baywatch Nights after season two, Donna D’Errico was invited to keep her role in the main series of Baywatch. Popular with the fans, they would have Donna D’Errico sell her nightclub to join Mitch’s lifeguard team.
Excited for the opportunity to be on the most-watched series in the world, D’Errico quickly accept. There was only one problem: she never swam before in her life.
"I couldn’t swim. I had a serious water phobia. I couldn’t even tread water. The [Baywatch swim coach] asked me, ‘You could swim right?’ I said, ‘Of course!’ I lied.,” said D’Errico about auditioning to be a lifeguard on Baywatch.
Beyond the standard acting audition, Baywatch producers required potential roles for the series to take a basic swimming test to prove they know the basics and keep themselves afloat in the water. Despite never learning how to even tread water, D’Errico arrived at her swim test anyway.
“It was all supposed to be basic stuff, nothing technical. But all I kept thinking was, ‘What the heck am I supposed to do?’ I still showed up at 5 a.m. I was told, ‘Get in the pool, do a couple of laps to warm up.’ Here I am holding onto the edge like a terrified child. And he’s like, ‘Donna, what are you doing?’ Go do a couple of laps. It’s freezing in there.’ I couldn’t let go. I was going to sink. And finally, he’s like, ‘Donna, get out of the pool. You can’t swim.’"
Determined to keep her part and become part of the famous Baywatch team, D’Errico immediately after to take swim lessons. After several weeks of training, she proved that she could keep herself afloat and was cast to first appear in the premiere of season seven, Shark Fever.
D’Errico would stay on as part of the main Baywatch cast all the way through seasons seven and eight and make her final appearance as Donna Marco in the Baywatch film, White Thunder at Glacier Bay. While D'Errico did manage to pass her basic swim test, many of her scenes were kept out of the water with her only performing one water rescue during her time on the series.