Yusra escaped Syria and on a small motorboat with 18 other people, headed for Greece from Turkey. The boat’s motor failed along the way, so she and her sister, Sarah, leapt into the water and helped push the boat toward the island of Lesbos for over three hours. “I want to inspire them to do something good in their lives." Yusra says, “I remember that without swimming, I would never be alive.”
Prior to the war in Syria, Yusra was a competitive swimmer, but as the war intensified, she and her sister left Damascus for Berlin.
"In Syria I worked in a swimming pool to watch people not drowning, so if I let anyone drown or die I would not forgive myself," Mardini said. “There were people who didn’t know how to swim. I wasn’t going to sit there and complain that I would drown. If I was going to drown, at least I’d drown proud of myself and my sister.”
Yusra won her heat on Saturday and ranked 41 in the competition, which means she did not advance to the semifinals. However, Yusra will have another chance at moving forward in the #competition when she competes in the Women's 100-Meter Freestyle heats on Wednesday, August 10th.
Sources: UNHCR, Washington Post, IOC [Graphics: HumanRefuge(e)]