Hungarian Swimming Association Helps Host Ukrainian Age Groups
The majority of Ukraine’s junior national swimming team, 23 age groups in total, have been hosted in Hungary to avoid the current war raging with Russia within their country.
In a collaborative effort with the Hungarian Swimming Asosicaiotn, as well as the Hungarian government, swimmers are training in Debrecen and Kaposvar, able to continue their routines under their regular coaches.
Both groups include top talent like Oleksandr Jeltyakovsilver medalist in the 100m backstroke at the 2021 European Junior Championships, as well as Viktoriya Kostromina who was a member of the bronze medal-winning mixed medley relay at the same competition in Rome.
President of the Hungarian Swimming Federation Sandor Wladar “We’ve done a lot of good things for Hungarian swimming in the last years, organized a lot of international events for FINA and LEN, received a lot of positive feedback – but it’s something different because we probably just saved lives , to save young swimmers from seeing their careers ruined and their dreams shattered, and that’s something that words can’t quite describe.
The rescue operation somehow stems from a relationship between Wladar and a Soviet swimmer Sergei Fesenko who both won gold medals at the 1980 Olympics boycotted by the United States.
Wladar says: “Sergey stayed in my apartment in 1992 when he visited Hungary and since then we have been following each other’s lives.
“Now, when the war broke out, he wrote to me if we could help him because he works for the Ukrainian Federation. I immediately contacted the government officials, as well as tried to find partners for the mission and finally we were able to agree with our vice-president Andras Becsky, director of the sports school in Debrecen and Tamas Der, director of the sports school of Kaposvar and the deputy mayor of this city to welcome these young swimmers. Of course, we are aware that many others would like to come, but we can only accept those who are enlisted by Sergey.
“The Ukrainian Swimming Federation, with the help of parents and coaches, managed to evacuate swimming children from cities that are bombed every day,” Fesenko said in a message. “We are grateful to our Hungarian friends for the invaluable support they have given to the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian swimming at this difficult time for our country. We express our gratitude to the Prime Minister of Hungary, the Hungarian Swimming Association and personally to President Sandor Wladar for helping our athletes and providing them with excellent training conditions.
From now on, all expenses of Ukrainian swimmers and accompanying persons are covered by the Hungarian Federation, although the Ukrainian Federation must apply for financial support from LEN to reimburse federations that now host Ukrainian aquatic athletes in many European countries.
Earlier, we reported how the Italian nation has also reached out to help Ukrainian aquatic athletes in need. Already hosting some of Ukraine’s Olympians in artistic swimming (synchronized swimming), will now also host a selection of elite Ukrainian swimmers.