Teen Swimmer Saves Drowning Refugees, Looks To The Olympics

Yusra Mardini is the 18-year-old with her eyes back on the prize.

By Jazzi Johnson

Yusra Mardini is my hero and she should be yours too. The 18-year-old is hopeful about an opportunity to represent her home country in the 2016 Summer Olympics, just one year after fleeing Syria and saving lives while doing it.

The refugee, now settled in Berlin, initially traveled from Syria to Lebanon, and finally made it to Turkey where she and 20 others squeezed into a dinghy to sail across the sea to Greece. Halfway through, the engine on their small sailing boat gave out. 

"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," Mardini said.

Holding over twice the recommended size of the boat, Mardini, her sister, and a man aboard jumped out to swim and propel the boat to its final destination in Lesbos. The others were unable or incapable of swimming.

"I just wanted to get everyone safely to the island. Which we did, thank God,” said her sister, Sarah Mardini, 20. 

It took the trio three hours to reach land, and upon arriving, trekked another way to find solace in central Europe. 

Yusra and her older sister Sarah were known as the most promising swimming stars in Syria before they were forced to flee. Now living and training in Germany, the superhero swimmer Yusra, in particular, is among 43 other athlete refugees attempting to represent their home country in Rio de Janeiro in August. 

This is the first time in history that the International Olympics Committee announced the game will feature a team of refugees. "I want all refugees to be proud of me, I want to encourage them that even if we are not in our homeland and had a tough way that we can still do great things," Yusra said.

So, we all know who we’ll be rooting for this summer, am I right?

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