Netflix has just released ‘The Swimmers’, a film that retells the true story of some sisters Sarah Y Yusra Mardinwho fled Syria to find refuge from the civil war in his home country in 2015.
Having spent his childhood training in the pool with his father, Ezzat, the Mardini sisters aspired to swim in the Olympics even after settling in Berlin, Germany. The film captures Yusra’s success in qualifying for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) at the 2016 Rio Games.
The biopic opens in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where the Mardini family resided until their home was destroyed in 2012. Ezzat, once a member of the Syrian national swimming team, was later arrested and beaten amid the violence and the corruption of war.
The family realized that Syria had become habitable when the war invaded their lives. The parents knew that it would be difficult for all of them to escape together, so they insisted that their daughters seek asylum.
The sisters traveled to Lebanon, then through Turkey to reach the port of Izmir, where they boarded a boat bound for the Greek islands of the Aegean. The boat held six passengers but was overcrowded with 20 refugees, including the sisters.
During the voyage, the engine failed and the ship soon began to sink. The Mardini sisters along with two others jumped into the water and swam the boat to shore for three hours.
Upon their arrival on the island of Lesbos, the smugglers brought the sisters and helped them begin their journey through Europe. Days later, Sarah and Yusra found their new home in Berlin.
The sisters continued training in the pool under the orders of the German coach Sven Spannenkrebs. Yusra went on to qualify for Rio and was chosen by the IOC President Thomas Bach to compete in the Games.
Yusra started her Olympic debut with a win in his series of 100 flies finishing 41st overall. He then ran as high as 45th in the 100 free.
At the Tokyo 2020 Games, Yusra swam the 100 butterflies, beating her time in Rio by almost 2.5 seconds.
Welsh-Egyptian director and screenwriter Sally El Hosaini directed the film project and wrote the script together with the British screenwriter jack thornewho is known for the four-part miniseries Kiri. El-Hosaini’s first feature film in 2012 my brother the devil It won major awards at the Sundance, Berlin and London Film Festivals.
Lebanese sisters and actors Manal and Nathalie Issa play the characters of Yusra and Sarah in the film. El-Hosaini has also included actors Ali Suliman, Ahmed Malek, Kinda Alloush and James Krishna Floyd, who appeared in my brother the devil.
Yusra has the mission to start a foundation to support refugees and use your platform to inspire them to believe in their dreams. Yusra tells her story in her autobiography “Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph” which was published in 2018.