LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — as the world continues to watch war unfold between Russia and Ukraine, for UNLV Ukrainian diver, Dima Treschenko, it’s hitting right at home.
Tereshchenko said, “Within the first day, they bombed all the airports. The city where I’m from, it’s a pretty big military base there. I was scared for my family getting affected. I was calling my grandparents. They said they heard bombs.”
The Rebels clinched their second-straight Western Athletic Conference title over the weekend, but it wasn't just winning on their minds. An act of solidarity was, too.
Junior swimmer Chris Mykkanen shared, “the idea came from one of our Ukrainian divers and one of our swimmers from Belarus. They came up with the idea, and we all just did it. You’re at a swim meet and you’re seeing what’s happening there, you just feel helpless. It shows that we’re all there for each other. We all support each other.”
Many of the men’s swimmers had hearts drawn over their owns hearts, with colors of the Ukraine flags. The hope was to send a message going far beyond sports.
Freshman swimmer and Poland native Dominik Bujak shared, “We wanted to say that we are with the Ukrainian people. We are with Dima. And we support Ukraine.”
“it shows you that we can all come together from all these different backgrounds," Mykkanen said. "We all might be from different countries, but it doesn’t matter. We’re all swimmers, we’re all from the same team in some ways.”
It’s a reminder of how in times like these, sports can bind us closer together.
Tereshchenko stated, “My message is stay alive, stay strong. This will end soon. If one thing this shows us, Ukraine people are a lot stronger than anyone can think. In a time of disparity, they unite, they become one. They help each other. They will help anyone that struggles. They will overcome this."