‘The Swimmers’ provides captivating, un-whitewashed insight into true story



“The Swimmers,” on Netflix, tells the riveting — and true — story of sisters swimmers Yusra and Sara Mardini and their escape from Syria.

Taariq Ahmed, Reporter

When sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini witness the unraveling of political turmoil across Syria, the amateur swimmers decide to embark on a journey across the Mediterranean and Europe under devastating circumstances, all in the hopes of competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  This incredible story is all depicted in the Netflix movie “The Swimmers,” which is entirely based on a true story

As nations across the world determine how much aid they can afford to give to displaced people, “The Swimmers” illustrates a dramatic, yet all-too-realistic portrait of the ongoing refugee crisis without any sugar coating or glorification. 

The movie focuses on the hardships of the sisters’ 2015 journey, such as crossing the sea packed with dozens of other refugees in a barely-functional boat and being squeezed into all sorts of other vehicles to avoid being caught by European government officials.

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Mardinis’ swimming career once they reach Germany and meet Sven Spannekrebs, the swimming coach who both trains the sisters and provides them with physical resources and emotional support. 

At the time of the film’s release, Sara Mardini, who is shown working as a refugee aid worker in the film, was among 24 arrested in 2018 by the Greek government for “espionage” and other crimes. Though the charges were dropped for Sara and the others, the fight for human rights still faces obstacles everywhere, which the film tackles excellently.

The intricate and hard-hitting story of “The Swimmers” also illustrates the struggles Yusra and Sara face after reaching Germany, as the movie tackles a wide range of subjects from the terribly painful citizenship process for new immigrants to post-traumatic stress disorder. These are painstaking challenges that can only be illustrated through a piece of visual art like “The Swimmers.” The film brings tears of both sadness and happiness to the eyes of any audience.

Ultimately, “The Swimmers” highlights how the need for refugee support, especially in light of Sara Mardini and other aid worker’s arrest, is imperative to fighting for human rights and equal opportunities for all.

Official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObN4krVV20Y