Italy helps Ukrainian synchronized swimming team reach Rome

ROME (AP) — Most members of Ukraine’s women’s synchronized swimming team arrived in Rome on Tuesday after fleeing war in their home country with Italian help.

Ten athletes and two coaches traveled in a bus provided by the Italian Swimming Federation from the Ukrainian-Hungarian border to Rome.

Italian swimming officials have welcomed the athletes, who will continue their training at Italy’s Olympic facilities in Ostia, a seaside suburb of the Italian capital, as they prepare for the European Aquatics Championships to be held in Rome in August.

According to the UN, the number of people who have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion has reached 2 million, with many more still trying to get out.

Although grateful, the athletes are worried about their loved ones left behind in Ukraine.

Maryna Aleksiiva, who arrived with her twin sister Vladyslava, both Olympic bronze medalists, described the athletes as being “terrified by our relatives, our friends who are still in Ukraine, because it’s too dangerous, because every day (children and other civilians) die.”

She added: “We know that in Ukraine those who protect us are dying, but we had to leave and leave our city. It was very hard.

The team members, aged 14 to 20, left last weekend from their base in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which has come under heavy attack. They headed for Lviv, a Ukrainian city near the border with Poland, then finally made their way to Hungary, where Italian sports officials met them and escorted them to Rome.

Four teammates and three coaches are still in Ukraine, including Olympic bronze medalist Marta Fiedina. The Italian swimming federation is organizing their arrival in Italy in the next few days.

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