Apr 12, 2020
The “Progetto Filippide” team is a group of Italian synchronized swimmers with Down syndrome who are promoting their sport for inclusion in the Paralympics
ROME (AP) — Under a bright Roman sun, Arianna Sacripante holds her arms out wide, tilts her head back and points her eyes toward the clear blue sky.
The synchronized swimming routine performed on the terrace of Sacripante’s home — with her mother improvising as coach and choreographer — is a shining example of perseverance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sacripante and her teammates with Down syndrome have met the year-long postponement of their performance after the Tokyo Olympics just as they’ve met every other challenge in their lives: with the will to overcome it.
The "Progetto Filippide” team, which comes under the umbrella of the Italian Swimming Federation, has the goal of achieving inclusion in the Paralympics program.
“When I see them in the water, the first thing that I think of is how sports can erase a disability,” said Sabrina Bernabei, the team’s coach. “The rules are the same and they just want to show what they are able to do. It’s unbelievable what they can pull out and how they can perform.”
Bernabei added that sometimes she doesn’t understand “if I am the one teaching them or they are teaching something to me.”
The team is planning to perform at the Para Artistic Swimming Festival & International Friendly Games, which is held between the Olympics and Paralympics. Due to the postponement, the performance will now likely be held in 2021. Synchronized swimming is not yet a Paralympic sport and the festival is the primary showcase for becoming part of the program.
There are currently 22 sports in the Summer Paralympics program.
The Associated Press has been following the Filippide team's progress since before the coronavirus pandemic hit Italy — which prompted a nationwide lockdown that included closing swimming pools. That’s why the synchro team has been training individually at home.
Follow AP visual journalism:
AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images
AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
YOUR NEWS, OUR NETWORK.
Do you have Great News you want to tell the world?
Be it updates about your business or your community, you can make sure that it’s heard by submitting your story to our network reaching hundreds of news sites across 6 verticals.