From Palestine to the Olympic Games, Dania Nour hopes to prove that nothing is impossible


Nour (right) bears the flag of Palestine alongside weightlifter and teammate at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Yousef Manna, Sports Editor

First-year swimmer Dania Nour is preparing, through being on the university’s swim team, to be able to participate in the next Olympic Games and to break the Palestinian record in the 50-meter freestyle. Nour competed at the 2018 Asian Games, the 2019 World Aquatics Championship and represented Palestine at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she rose the Palestinian flag at the opening ceremony of the event.

“These were special…I got to meet the best swimmers, the best athletes in all the world, and it was a pretty good experience to raise my country’s flag in the opening ceremony and participate in the name of my country in these championships,” Nour said. 

Nour was one of only five Palestinian athletes at the 2020 Olympic Games, and she aspires to be a beacon of inspiration to those afraid to dream big, particularly in Palestine. 

“It means a lot for me…to be as an ideal for the coming generations, in Palestine especially, to let them see that nothing is impossible if you have a goal and a dream,” Nour said.

While looking at profiles of swimmers, Swimming Head Coach Robert Schreifels discovered Nour. He praised her bravery for committing to pursue a degree and further her swimming career so far away from home. 

“It takes a lot of courage. It’s difficult to leave home under the easiest of circumstances here, if you’re, you know, an American person. But she came around the world…I think she has a lot of courage,” Schreifels said. 

Nour said she chose California Lutheran University because she enjoys California’s weather, and was looking at schools that had long-course pools, the requirement being met with the university’s Olympic-sized pool.

“I liked the personality of the coach, how his goals to work with the teams are. The team is very welcoming, and I like the campus here,” Nour said.

Schreifels said it means a lot to have an athlete with a resume like Nour’s. Also, he said his ambitions for Nour align with her goals, as he hopes she utilizes Cal Lutheran to build on what she has already achieved. 

“She’s accomplished a lot. We feel that this school supports building on those accomplishments, and I think she and her family recognized that,” Schreifels said. 

Schreifels said that having an athlete like Nour adds to the mission that Cal Lutheran is trying to accomplish, and contributes to the future growth of the swimming program. 

“I think it shows that this school is willing to support somebody at that level…I think that’s gonna attract people from the outside,” Schreifels said. 

First-year swimmer Faith Timney was initially intimidated by the prospect of being Nour’s teammate, however, Timney said she soon realized that Nour was someone she could look up to and learn from.

“Once I got to know her, I realized that she’s just kind of like any of us, and she’s a great teammate. She will push you to be better, for sure. She’ll really help you out with swimming,” Timney said. 

Timney said she has never seen someone as disciplined as Nour, and talked about how she practices twice a day during the offseason and spends time in the gym during the season. 

Nour’s focus and discipline can be traced back to her early childhood, as she said she used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. in the winter months to cross Israeli military checkpoints to train, as pools in Palestine would not operate during these months due to financial issues. 

“She’s amazing. She listens, adjusts things, she analyzes, and she’s very focused,” Schreifels said.