Ukrainian Juniors Express Gratitude For Ability To Train & Compete In Hungary

As we reported back in March, the Hungarian Swimming Association has welcome the Ukrainian junior national team to come and train in Hungary to escape the ongoing Russian invasion in their home nation.

In late April, the swimmers were able to compete at the Hungarian Nationals in Debrecen, including rising star Oleksandr Zheltyakov setting a new Ukrainian National Record in the men’s 200 backstroke (1:57.23).

LEN, the European governing body of aquatic sports, has released a video featuring a series of interviews with Zheltyakov, fellow swimmer Kamila Isayeva and coach Oleksandr Kulyk where they expressed their gratitude to the Hungarian Swimming Federation and discussed the difficulty of carrying on with so much going on back home.

“During the first few days here I tried to think positive, like we’re here for a training camp, and we will be back in a few weeks to Ukraine, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop – it’s even getting worse,” said Isayeva, who was a finalist in the women’s 50 breaststroke at the 2021 European Junior Championships.

“And now I’m really afraid. When will I come back home, when will I train in Ukraine and show my results there? It’s really hard but we’re trying to stay strong and we’re trying to do everything to show our country at different competitions.”

Isayeva said it’s been difficult to focus on swimming with what’s going on back in Ukraine.

“Our thoughts are elsewhere, our thoughts are in Ukraine with our parents and families, so right now we are not in great shape. But I hope we come back stronger and show our results.

“It’s still unbelievable for me, because a different country like Hungary, they opened their arms for us and we have a place to sleep, we have a place to eat, we have everything we need. We have a swimming pool, time to train, we don’t have to worry about rockets and soldiers that could come up to our house. So I’m really grateful for that, everyone is grateful for that. We are just thankful for everything.”

Like Isayeva, Kulyk couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity given by the Hungarians. He also spoke about how difficult it is emotionally for some of his swimmers.

“Of course, (for) some it feels emotionally harder than others because they left their family, their parents, siblings at home in Ukraine. We have one minute of silence before every training for the soldiers, and for the people who are still in Ukraine.

“We are proud that we are Ukrainians, we are really proud to show the world who the Ukrainians are. We try everything that we can to help everyone mentally and physically to not feel bad here.”

Zheltyakov, who said he’s targetting the 2022 European Juniors in Bucharest in early July, added:

“Watching what’s happening in my country is unbelievably sad, it’s against humanity, it’s abnormal. But I’m happy to see that our nation is getting together, getting stronger.”

You can watch the full video below:

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Darjan Petrič
4 months ago

Of course the swimming community is grateful to Hungary, but Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Norway… deserve gratitude, too!

oleg chebotarev
4 months ago

thank you Hungary. Glory to the Heroes. Swim must go on

4 months ago

One nice word about Hungary (otherwise the most Russian war and Putin supporting crowd – 3 out 10 people)

Tommy Schmitt
Reply to  NB1
4 months ago

Might have something to do with their “democratically” elected leader …

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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