Senior Bella Pantano sets sights on Olympic trials

By Dianna Sledge

Senior Bella Pantano first learned how to swim when she was just 4 years old. 

“Both my parents swam for Texas A&M, so swimming was a huge part of their lives. I think they just wanted my siblings and I to know how to do it,” Pantano said. 

Pantano was gifted from an early age. She never received official swimming lessons, but she started out swimming for a summer league.

“I started swimming for Omaha Country Club when I was 5 and basically just did that until the summer before freshman year. I had been a part of a club team, but I went to practice approximately two times a week,” Pantano said. 

It was around the start of her freshman year when Pantano started to take swim seriously. 

“Freshman year was my first year of year-round training,” Pantano said. 

Pantano has had four years of serious training with the Marian swim team. 

Currently, Pantano swims for the Marian swim and dive team as well as the Greater Omaha Aquatics League (G.O.A.L). She has taken part in many major swimming competitions around the nation including the Junior Nationals in December 2018 and the Summer Junior Nationals this past August. 

The biggest meet Pantano swam in was the U.S. Open this past December. The U.S. Open is a national swim meet open to all ages. To be eligible to swim at this meet, one must swim a certain time in an event.   

“My best and favorite stroke is the backstroke,” Pantano said. 

Pantano swam the 100 meter and 200 meter backstroke at the U.S. Open. She holds the school record for the individual 100 meter backstroke, the individual 100 meter butterfly and was a part of the 2019 medley relay team. 

Pantano is also working towards swimming in the Olympic trials. 

“Swimming at the Olympic trials has been my goal since 2018,” Pantano said.

Currently, Pantano is 1.56 seconds away from qualifying for the trials. Next year, Pantano plans to swim at the University of South Carolina on a scholarship. 

pantano for web.jpg

Senior Bella Pantano and junior Maddie Clark warm up with backstroke kicks before practice started at the UNO Fitness Center. Without a pool on campus, Marian’s team utilizes the space at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Photo by Sarah Cronin

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