After fleeing their home in Damascus, Syria, in 2015, the Mardini sisters were making their way to Greece when their dinghy failed in the middle of the Aegean Sea. The film tells the story of how the sisters, and two other passengers, used their ability to swim to save their own lives and the lives of other refugees on board.  

After their harrowing 25-day journey, through nine countries, the sisters reach Germany and Yusra meets a sympathetic German swim coach, Matthias Schweighofer. After a warm welcome in Germany, Schweighofer convinces Yusra to join the IOC Refugee Olympic Team to compete at the Rio 216 Olympic Games. And the rest is history.  

Directed by Sally El Hosaini and written by Jack Thorne, The Swimmers made its world premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2022. Following this success, the cinematic feature was selected as the opening film of the Zurich Film Festival.  As a result, it’s already receiving plaudits from around the world ahead of its global Netflix launch.  

“Audiences will most definitely connect and be inspired by The Swimmers upon its Netflix release.”
By - Rotten Tomatoes user
“Its impact comes not only from the real-life events it’s depicting, but also the way in which it frames this now-familiar tale.”
By - Screen Daily
“The movie is a very nicely paced dramatisation of an amazing human achievement and story.”
By - IMDB user
“Sally El Hosaini’s film is at its strongest in the details of the refugees’ road, familiar to Americans from news footage, but brought to life here in all its gnawing suspense.”
By - Rotten Tomatoes user

The film is a true reflection of the importance of swimming as an essential life skill and a sport that can save thousands of lives every year. Swimming education and its ability to prevent drowning deaths worldwide cannot be underestimated.  

For more details, read our Q&A with Yusra Mardini during her recent visit to the FINA headquarters.