Ukraine’s national artistic swimming team (synchronized swimming) arrived at the Polo Acquatico Frecciarossa in Ostia, Italy on Tuesday. There they were welcomed by the president of the Italian federation (federnuoto) Paul Barelliaccompanied by a delegation of athletes and local political and sports leaders.
The team made the 3,000 kilometer (1,900 mile) journey from Ukraine to train in Italy after being displaced by the ongoing war in their home country.
Ukraine is one of the most successful countries in the world in artistic swimming. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, they won bronze in the duet and team events, the two events on the Olympic programme. At the 2019 World Championships, Ukraine placed 2nd in gold medals (1) and total medals (6) behind only the dominant Russians.
Ukraine’s victory in the Highlight Routine event was the only gold medal Russia did not win. Russia did not participate in this event, which is relatively new to the artistic swimming calendar.
Video of the team‘s arrival:
Italy is also an artistic swimming powerhouse, winning 3 silver medals at the last world championships.
The trip saw the team congregate for the first time in Lviv, a major city in western Ukraine that has so far escaped the worst of the fighting but expects more in the coming days. . They first arrived in Budapest, Hungary, and from there departed for Rome in buses chartered by the Italian Swimming Federation.
“There is growing concern. The athletes we expect at the border are divided into three groups,” Barelli said of the plans. “Not everyone managed to reach Lviv, which was the meeting point identified by the Ukrainian federation. Hope they all make it to the border. However, we are ready to organize even more trips if necessary to ensure their transport to Italy. Sport must be close to the drama that our Ukrainian friends are going through, condemn with drastic decisions and stigmatize Russia’s actions with an attitude of firm denial; it must be dissuasive and stimulating in order to achieve peace quickly. Our availability pales in comparison to the sacrifices and hardships the Ukrainian people are facing. Many athletes fight for freedom. We hope to see them in the pool soon.
The Ostia Federal Center is designed to accommodate athletes, including on-site accommodation, 25 and 50 meter pools and a dining hall. Athletes are expected to live and train at the center.
List of athletes who arrived in Ostia
- Maryna Aleksiiva*
- Vladyslava Aleksiiva*
- Anastasia Soldatenkova
- Anastasia Shmonina
- Anhelina Ovchynnikova
- Marta Fiedina*
- Valerie Tyshchenko
- Amelia Volynska
- Daria Moshynska
- Veronika Hryshko
- Olesia Derevianchenko
- Sophie Spasybo
- Sofia Matsievska
* – indicates Tokyo 2020 Olympic participant.
The center is where Gregorio Paltrinieri trained for years, as well as Mykhalo Romanchuk, a Ukrainian swimmer who has Olympic medals.
While some of the country’s best aquatic athletes train outside Ukraine, others have chosen to stay in the country to fight Russian invaders, or have been forced to stay in the country because they are men of fighting age. A national team coach, Aina Morozovawas trapped for 2 hours in rubble under a building that was hit by a missile in Kharkiv last week.