The Swimmers

The Swimmers

Film Netflix
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From war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics, that is the story of The Swimmers, two young sisters who make the journey to Germany in search of safety and refuge. 

From writer and director Sally el Hosaini comes The Swimmers, a movie that explores what it is like to become a refugee and what it takes to rise above our circumstances and do something great.

Based on a true story, The Swimmers has taken Netflix by storm, heading straight into its Top Ten in countries worldwide.

But what is it about, and is it worth watching?

What Is The Swimmers About?

Based on sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini, their life story begins as Syria is on the brink of civil war.

Having grown up in a loving home, their father had coached them as swimmers, with the aim that they would one day make it to the Olympics.

But when their town is bombed, the sisters realise that the only way they can all get out of war torn Syria is if they make it to Germany and then apply to have the rest of their family brought there afterwards.

Along with their cousin, they gather a few possessions and make the arduous trek from Syria to Europe, landing first in Turkey, where they arranged to be smuggled into Greece.

Barely surviving the trip across the Aegean Sea, Yusra and Sarah save the lives of those on board the overcrowded dinghy when the engine cuts out and begins to sink.

Weeks later, after making it through a number of other countries, the sisters arrive in Munich and enter the system to await their refugee status.

Once there, Yusra convinces a local swimming coach Sven (Matthias Schweighöfer) to train her for the Olympics.

Through sheer grit, dedication and determination, Yusra qualifies for the Refugee Olympic team and actually competed in two swimming events at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Swimmers Official Trailer

Is The Swimmers Worth Watching?

Despite a run time of over two hours, The Swimmers is engaging from beginning to end. Told in both Syrian and English, this is a remarkable true story with two stellar actresses taking the lead as the two young sisters.

While I was aware of Olympian Yusra Mardini, I wasn't aware of her backstory or that of her sister Sara Mardini. The Swimmers masterfully outlines their lives from the normality of their youth to the unimaginable difficulty of having to decide to flee their home country and become refugees.

And yet the movie doesn't labour or languish on the sadness of that situation, but rather it focuses on the pragmatic attitude of the Mardini sisters as they begin their harrowing journey.

The Swimmers is a film designed to make you really think about the people who risk their lives for a better future for themselves and their families.

By the time the young sisters embark on the path to their new life, you already know enough about them to truly root for them while also giving pause to think of those not lucky enough to have made it.

A worthy topic turned into a thought-provoking film, The Swimmers will linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled.

The Swimmers Netflix Cast

Nathalie Issa as Yusra Mardini, a young girl who uses her champion swimming skills

Manal Issa as Sara Mardini, Yusra's sister

Ahmed Malek as Nizar, Yusra and Sara's cousin

Matthias Schweighöfer (Army of Thieves) as Sven, the German swimming coach

James Krishna Floyd as Emad

Ali Suliman as Ezzat Mardini

Kinda Alloush as Mervat Mardini

Elmi Rashid Elmi as Bilal


  • Remarkable True Story
  • Two Fantastic Lead Actors
  • Inspiring And Though Provoking


  • Run Time Is Quite Long
  • A Lot Of Story Before The Journey Even Begins


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