Yusra Mardini Swam Three Hours To Escape Syria And Now She's An Olympic Swimmer

Ashley Hunte
Woman in pool, smiling with eyes closed.
instagram | @yusramardini

Yusra Mardini's journey to the Olympics is unlike the ones you typically hear. As the daughter of a former Syrian national swimmer, the sport transformed from something taught to her by her family, to a means of survival.

Mardini was caught up in the Syrian civil war.

In 2015, after her father was arrested by soldiers, Mardini and her sister embarked on the journey to escape Syria.

It took them to Lebanon, and then to Turkey.

From there, the sister were meant to travel to Germany by boat. They were among a group of 20 passengers on a small boat only made for seven.

And then, the motor failed.

They were stranded in the middle of the Aegean sea, nowhere near either shore. And not much could be done.

Except for swimming.

Nardini and her sister both jumped out of the boat, and with the help of two other men, they pushed the boat full of passengers to the other side.

With a motor, the trip from Turkey to Germany would've taken 45 minutes.

Without a motor and forced to swim while pushing the boat, it took them three hours to get to shore. But it was well worth it, since their new lives waited for them on the other side.

After that, Mardini started Olympic training in Germany.

She competed in Rio in 2016 as part of the Refugee Olympic Team, though she didn't medal then.

And she made it back for Tokyo 2020.

She didn't medal in last year's games, either. But, she got to be the flag bearer for the Refugee Olympic Team.

Mardini is now pledging to help other refugees.

Her Instagram includes a link to donate to help Ukrainian refugees, who are in a position eerily similar to the one she was in back in 2015.

And now, Mardini's story is inspiring people around the world.

She and her sister are even the subject of a movie produced by Netflix. I'm sure that for Mardini, the future is looking bright.

h/t: Upworthy