Syrian refugee swimmer wins her first Olympic heat

  • Refugee athlete Yusra Mardini won the opening heat for the women’s 100-meter butterfly swimming competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics
  • During the preliminaries, she clocked in at 1:9.21 and placed 41st overall — unable to advance to the semi-finals
  • Mardini is one of the athletes that make up the Team Refugee in the Rio Olympics

Yusra Mardini, who once swam across the Mediterranean Sea to save her life and a boat full of fellow refugees, won the opening heat of the women’s 100-meter butterfly swimming competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,

“It’s very cool,” said Mardini, after placing first in the 100-meters butterfly opening heat and advancing to the preliminaries. “It is an incredible feeling to be here.”

During the preliminaries, Mardini clocked in at 1 minute and 9.21 seconds, which put her in 41st place overall and was unable to qualify to the semi-final round, according to an update posted in the Olympics website

The 18-year-old Syrian swimmer is one of the first few athletes to represent Team Refugee in the Olympics, and had one of the most inspiring backstories which made headlines worldwide.

In 2014, then 17-year-old Yusra and her sister, Sarah, fled their war torn country. However, on their way to Greece, their boat started sinking due to motor failure in the Aegean Sea. The sisters had to jump off the boat and swam for more than 3 hours to bring the boat to shore and saved the lives of 20 people.

“Me and my sister were holding on to the boat with one hand and doing the breaststroke with the other hand and legs. It was 3 1/2 hours in cold water. Your body is almost, like, done,” she recounted. ” I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea because I’m a swimmer.”

Although unable to bag a medal on her first try, Mardini will have another chance to qualify in the women’s 100-meter freestyle event on Wednesday, August 10.

She is also looking forward to train and compete in the next Olympics, as per an article published by NBC.

“My main aim is the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, I want to train a lot so that I arrive there with a good chance,” said Mardini.