Stunning account of refugee Olympian swimmer’s guiding dingy to safety

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

It seems safe to say the second-favorite Olympic team for many Americans will be the Refugee squad, and that’s because of stories like that of swimmer Yusra Mardini.

Mardini, 18, has worked from Syria to Rio through obstacles such as the bombing of her training center, peers being killed, and her family’s departure through a forest flanked by armed smugglers.

That she trains in a pool built for Nazi athletes at the 1936 Games is remarkable. That her swimming physically guided her boat of refugees to relative safety is stunning.

From the New York Times’ Charly Wilder:

Mardini and her sister swam for three and a half hours, helping the boat stay on course — even when the two male swimmers gave up and let the dinghy pull them along. It was cold, Mardini said. Her clothes dragged her down, and salt burned her eyes and skin.

“The little kid kept looking at me, scared,” she said, “so I was doing all these funny faces.”

Indelibly heavy stuff from a strong profile of a young swimmer. Do work in Rio, Ms. Maldini.