“The Swimmers” a story of shining sisters


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Yusra and Sara Mardini are athletes that will go down in history.

Bridget Nye, Managing Editor

As Netflix continues to grow as a platform with new titles being released almost every day, they are able to expand their collection to fit anyone’s preferences. From horror frights to a new Christmas classic, they can cater to everyone.

One genre that the streaming service has been adding to recently is their biography section. Lately people have been watching the “Dahmer- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” series for the true crime aspect. Earlier this year, many fans flocked to “Inventing Anna” for an investigative aspect. These types of stories have an extra layer of excitement since the viewer knows that they are true stories. The latest movie in the biography section is “The Swimmers.”

Released on Nov. 23, “The Swimmers” is about Yusra and Sara Mardini (played by Nathalie and Manal Issa) escaping their wartorn country of Syria and fleeing to Europe for a better life. They make it all the way to Germany to hopefully bring the rest of their family with them to safety. This journey toward freedom leads the girls all the way to becoming an Olympic athlete. 

The story begins in the summer of 2015. The sisters have been training with their father for most of their lives to become professional swimmers. They spend their days studying Michael Phelps in his races and practicing their preferred strokes. Yusra works so hard because her dream is to represent her country in the Olympics. After a bomb is dropped on their practice center, the girls convince their parents to let them flee to Germany. With no other choice, they let them leave alongside their cousin Nizar (Ahmed Malek).When the family finally arrives in Germany, the girls find a swim club that could help them get back in shape. Yusra still has high hopes for the Rio Olympics even after all they have been through. 

During a part of their journey, the group has to travel with 18 other refugees in a boat meant for half that number across the Aegean Sea. During the crossing the motor stopped running, leaving them stranded. The Mardini girls, along with two others, leapt into the freezing water to lighten the load of the sinking watercraft. For the sake of everyone, the sisters pull the refugees along for three and a half hours before they reach the shore. While for safety, they filmed this scene in a studio, the viewer can still feel the suspense and tension by the actors. For the film, they depicted this moment of Yusra imagining the pool. She kept swimming as if she was racing. For comparison, the hardest event a swimmer can participate in is the mile, which results in 1650 yards. For a fit athlete, it takes about 25 minutes with a strong speed to complete. These girls had to swim eight times as long in the freezing cold and salty ocean without proper attire. The fact that everyone survived this journey is nothing short of true strength. 

The timeline of this movie can be a bit confusing at times. They drew out how long it took the family to reach Germany. While in real life the journey was a few weeks, the film made it seem like it was rather months. I believe this was to show how the trip felt to the girls. Traveling across continents would feel longer than in reality.

One aspect of the movie I really enjoyed was that it showed the girls acting like actual teenagers. I think sometimes when society looks at refugees, we just see their situation. People don’t think of them as human beings with lives and families, but just as something to help. This film showed how the girls trained and lived normal lives right up until they were forced to flee. It makes me want to help other refugees who are escaping hard times. 

This movie exceeded my expectations. I had no idea how much the Mardini sisters had to go through. IMDB rated “The Swimmers” a 7.5/10 and I would have given it a 9/10. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was how they rushed Yusra’s training for the Olympics. 

Anyone who enjoys a heartwarming story of family and triumph should give this film a try. It will leave you in awe of everything Yusra and Sarah Mardini accomplished. And for everyone out there facing hardships, “find your lane, swim your race.”

Contact Bridget Nye at [email protected]