Samantha Bello of Peru has swimming in her blood. The 15-year-old’s father, Juan Carlos, was one of the finest swimmers the country has ever produced, and good enough to finish fourth in the men’s 200m individual medley at Mexico City 1968.
Young Samantha competed in the heats of the women’s 200m freestyle at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 on Wednesday 10 October and would appear to have the same exacting standards that made her father the swimmer he was. Despite clocking a personal best of 2:04.95 – nearly a second faster than her previous best – the Peruvian teenager was less than happy with her performance. “It’s not a good time,” she said. “I set a new PB but I fell short of my expectations because I wanted to do 2:03.”
One of the youngest swimmers competing at the YOG, Samantha knew she had little chance of making the final and finished nearly three seconds behind the slowest qualifier. Nevertheless, the experience will prove invaluable for her.
She is no stronger to top-level competition, having also appeared at the 2017 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships: “I was in Indianapolis last year. It was an amazing experience too, though if anything the competition is even stronger here than it was there, as incredible as that might sound.”
Peru’s national record holder in the women’s 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, she is understandably
inspired by her father’s achievements: “I’d like to do even better than he did. I want to go
further and fight for everything. I think that’s what everyone wants to do – go and improve on what the
people before you did. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.
“I’m always looking to set faster times and I’m very competitive,” she added. “If I don’t get the time I’m looking for, then I get annoyed.”
Samantha will return to the Natatorium for the women’s 400m freestyle on Friday 12 October and has high hopes of performing well: “The 200m and 400m are my specialities, but I also swam in the 800m. I just want to do my best and excel myself.”
Asked to reflect on her Olympic experience as a whole, she said: “The Games are very well organised. All the countries are here with full squads, which I think is amazing. I came with my coach and my parents, who are here to support me.”