Jul 19, 2024 Last Updated 11:23 AM, Nov 15, 2023


Ivan Ivan, during one of the training breaks. Foto: Mircea Reștea
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On the morning of February 24, 2022, Ivan Denysenko, a freshman at Piddubnyi Olympic College in Kiev, was getting ready for swimming practice when his father called to tell him the war had started. At home, in Bila Terkva, a town about 50 miles south of the Ukrainian capital, everything was fine. A few rockets hit nearby, but they didn't cause much damage. Ivan went to his cousin, who also lived in Kyivand, together with her and her family, they left for Bila Terkva.

On March 8th, at the request of his father, Ivan left for Italy with his cousin, her two children and another cousin. They lived there for a while, as guests of some acquaintances, in Castel Maggiore, near Bologna. Then they found a place in a church parish where they could stay for free. Ivan was taking online courses and found a coach in Bologna, so he continued his swimming training. 

He was six when his father first took him to the pool. His brother, 13 years older, was also a swimmer and signed him up with the same coach. At 17, Ivan achieved his best performances - first place at the regionals and fifth place at the national championships - and decided to become a sports coach.

After three months in Italy, Ivan's cousin decided to return to Ukraine, and Ivan chose Romania because his mother, sister-in-law and her children already lived in Baia Mare.

Since January 2023, Ivan has been training in Baia Mare with Cătălin Ungur, coach of the CS Seini swimming club. His training and nutrition are paid for by the Baia Mare Autism Association, and Cătălin helped him join the club. Now they are preparing for the Romanian national championships, where Ivan will only be able to compete in the qualifiers, not in the finals, as he does not have Romanian citizenship. But it's a good opportunity to see if he can confirm his best results.

Ivan's dream is to compete in the European and World Championships and then in the Olympics. He is looking to get a scholarship at a university in the United States. He learned about the scholarship system at American universities from Cătălin, who graduated in sports management from the University of Utah, where he was a full scholarship student. After graduation, Cătălin spent another year in the United States, where he worked as a coach at a swim club, which was part of an optional training program post college. He now applies the training method he learned in college, because he finds it to be very effective in the complex development of a competitive athlete.

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 April 2023 12:22
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Cristina Petrache

correspondent - Iași

Mircea Reștea

photographer, correspondent - Baia Mare

Raluca Ion

correspondent - Bucharest

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correspondent - Constanța

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correspondent - Timișoara

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correspondent - Miercurea Ciuc

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Cristina Crîliuk


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Julia Batioha


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