Syrian Refugee Yusra Mardini, Who Swam To Greece After Boat Capsized, Vies For Spot On Refugee Olympics Team

Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee who endured hours of swimming in the Aegean Sea after the boat she was traveling in capsized on her way to Greece, is now hoping her skills will land her a spot at the Olympics.

The 18-year-old refugee, who fled Damascus last year with her sister, found herself in the water after the boat began to fill with water, according to the Huffington Post.

According to TakePart, Yusra Mardini’s ordeal was brutal. During an attempt to travel to safety in Lesbos, Greece, the motor of the boat, which carried 20 refugees, stopped working. The teen was one of three swimmers on the boat who jumped into the water to push the boat on to Greece.

“We were [swimming] in the water for three-and-a-half hours until we got to Greece. It was really horrible. I couldn’t see anything, I wear glasses. The trip was a straight line. We could see the island, but never reach it.”

The entire journey took 25 days of travel and included a six-hour trek through a cornfield. She even found herself running away after getting arrested by Serbian police. But, eventually, she made it to Berlin with her sister, where she reunited with her family.

At a press conference held earlier this month in Berlin, Germany, the 18- year-old said she had one thought that lingered in her mind as she swam to safety.

“I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea, because I am a swimmer.”

And it makes sense that Mardini was one of the rescuers who helped push the boat to safety since she has been training as a swimmer for about a decade.

Yusra conceded that she has hated the open sea ever since she reached the safety of the shore.

After her heroism, she and her sister found safety in Germany, along with her family.

Once Mardini and her family settled into their new home, the teen turned her sights on landing a spot on an Olympic team made up of refugees, in order to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I want to show everybody that it’s hard to arrive at your dreams but it’s not impossible. You can do it; everyone can do it if I can do it, any athlete can do it.”

Mardini, who wants to compete in the 200-meter freestyle event, joins 43 others swimmers vying for 10 places on the Refugee Olympic Athletes team, which was created by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee in early March, according to a press release.

Yusra Mardini will learn in about two months whether she will make the team.

In the meantime, Yusra is focusing on getting her time down by a few seconds in order to meet the B standard of the International Swimming Federation and possibly qualify for the Olympic Games, TakePart reported.

According to Eurostat, more than 1.2 million refugees were registered in Europe in 2015, 441,800 of whom applied as first-time asylum seekers in Germany. Berlin’s allocation quota is 5.05 percent of asylum applications, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. As of January of this year, 91,000 refugees were registered in Europe.

If Yusra Mardini has proven anything, it’s that she is a determined young woman who does not give up when facing challenges.

“I think even if I fail I will try again. Maybe I will be sad but I will not show it, but I will try again and again until I get it.”

[Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images]