Yusra Mardini

From refugee to professional swimmer

Yusra Mardini has been swimming in Syria since she was a child - until the war began. In 2015, she flees with her family from the bombing. During the crossing of the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, the overcrowded rubber dinghy threatens to capsize. Yusra and her sister Sara swim together to save the boat and with it many lives. The family is stranded in Berlin. After the club Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 takes notice of her, she participates in the Refugee Team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She also competed in Tokyo in 2021. Since then, it has been quieter for Yusra Mardini, who is currently studying in the USA. 

However, she continues her tireless efforts on behalf of refugees during her studies. She has already received numerous awards for her social commitment, such as the Bambi (German media award) in the "Silent Heroes" category, "The Girls Award" from the UNICEF Global Goal Awards and the "Made For More Award" in the Hero category. She was also included in TIME magazine's list of the 30 most influential teenagers.

Hero moments

Their father's childhood swimming training paid off: When they fled Syria in 2015, Yusra and Sara Mardini rescued their fellow refugees. Today, the two-time Olympic athlete advocates for refugees, founded her own foundation and is the youngest ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). There is a film, book and documentary about her extraordinary life. With her moving story, she exemplifies the strength and courage of people on the run and inspires with her tireless commitment to these people.

All about Yusra Mardini

We have 6 exciting facts for you about a swimmer who is much more than just a competitive athlete and reveal what Mardini does today. A film about Yusra, her commitment to refugees and everything about her career. Click here for the article:

6 Facts about Yusra Mardini

Butterfly: The girl who saved a refugee boat and became an Olympic swimmer

In 2018, a book about her life was published. About how she swam as a child and was trained by her father. How she became a swimming star and stands up for refugees. She gives them a voice and brings their feelings to society.

Click here for the book

Athletes who rise above themselves

Resetting your own limits, overcoming obstacles and demanding more from your body than you ever thought possible - sport is so much more than just a hobby for us. It's a way to transcend yourself, inspire people around the globe, and create something meaningful as an individual.

In addition to Yusra Mardini, we introduce you to 8 other athletes who defy all the odds the world throws at them - and have been rewarded for it.

Athletes who have risen above themselves

Yusra Mardini Foundation

Yusra Mardini is an ambassador for the UN refugee agency UNHCR. In 2023, she finally founded her own foundation, the Yusra Mardini Foundation, through which she works to ensure that refugees worldwide have the opportunity to participate in sports and have access to education.

About her foundation

Netflix movie "The Swimmers

At the end of 2022, the streaming service Netflix released the film "The Swimmers". This is based on the biography of her and her sister Sara Mardini. The Mardini sisters are portrayed by Lebanese actresses Manal and Nathali Issa. Matthias Schweighöfer is also in the cast.

ARD documentary "Against the Current

For "Against the Current - Sara Mardini's Commitment to Humanity" Charly W. Feldmann accompanied Sara, Yusra's sister, for four years in her fight for justice. The documentary was released by ARD in July 2023.

"I am Yusra. I am a refugee and I’m proud to stand for peace, for decency and dignity for all those fleeing violence. Join me. Stand with us."
Yusra Mardini

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

Since 2017, Yusra Mardini has been the youngest Ambassador of the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR. With her own story, she gives other refugees a voice and, above all, hope.

On UNHCR

Doing good with sponsors 

In 2017, Yusra Mardini joined Under Armour's international athlete team. Not only did she implement the "Unlike Any" campaign with the global brand, together with her sponsor she also realized a swimming camp for children with refugee experience in her home club in 2020. Yusra is also a brand ambassador for the swimwear manufacturer Arena and swears by its swimsuits both in training and in private.

Oris x Yusra Mardini

In 2023, the Oris watch brand appointed Yusra Mardini as an Oris Ambassador. Together, they are working towards the common goal of making the world a better place through the "Change for the Better" project.

About Oris
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Facts about Yusra Mardnini

Birthday:March 5, 1998
Birthplace:Darayya, Syria
Family:Sara Mardini (sister)
Sporting achievements:2-time Olympic participant, Syrian national record in 400 m freestyle (2012)
Coaches:Sven Spannekrebs, Ariel Rodriguez
Instagram followers:820.000
Meet Yusra Mardini!

You want to see Yusra Mardini live? The Olympic swimmer and youngest UNHCR ambassador will open the Main Stage on the second day of the trade fair, November 29. Get your ticket for ISPO Munich 2023 now and meet Yusra Mardini!

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