Ukrainian swimmers made a lasting impression in the artistic swimming events at the European Games in Oswiecim, Poland, by presenting a powerful choreography about the war that has affected their country for more than a year. Despite facing significant challenges, including the fact that some of the swimmers are refugees in different European countries in order to train, the Ukrainian team finished fifth in the technical event, behind Spain and Italy, who took gold and silver, respectively.
Despite the result, the Ukrainian swimmers received a standing ovation from the Polish public, as Poland is an ally of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Their choreography was set to warlike music with percussive sounds evoking the shelling that has hit Ukrainian cities since February 2022.
Maryna Aleksiiva, 22, expressed that although they tried not to let the current situation in Ukraine affect their performance, they knew that their presence at the Games brought a little happiness to the soldiers on the front lines. Her twin sister, Vladyslava, added that the title of their choreography, “Unbreakable Destiny and Hope,” is meaningful to them in these difficult times.
The European Games, established in 2015, bring together thousands of athletes from more than 45 countries every four years. This edition features athletes competing in 29 different disciplines, 19 of which are Olympic, until July 2. Some events, such as artistic swimming, are part of the European Championships, while others award qualifying places for the Paris 2024 Games.
It is important to note that Russia, the country with the most medals in the last edition of the Games, and Belarus, the host country in 2019, were not invited by the Polish organizers. In addition, heavy rains in the Krakow region led to the postponement of several outdoor events, such as canoeing and climbing, for half a day.