After swimming for her life through the Aegean Sea to survive war and perilous sea, Yusra Mardini will be swimming at Rio Olympics 2016 now.

Now living in Germany, the 18-year-old Syrian, has qualified for Rio Olympics 2016. “It’s a dream come true, the Olympics is everything, it’s a life chance” Ms. Mardini exclaimed.

Mardini is one of the 19 displaced athletes to compete in Olympics 2016 as part of first-ever “Refugee Olympic Athletes” team under the flag of the International Olympic Committee. This team is being described as one of the most remarkable teams ever to compete in Olympic history.

“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said in a statement announcing the members of the team. “We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the stadium.”

Growing up, Yusra Basically, she was like any other teenager – except that, according to the BBC, the 18-year-old has been swimming since she was just three, and is also the daughter of a swimming coach.

But Syria’s brutal civil war changed that. As everything they knew came crumbling down around them, the Mardini family – who are Christian – realised they were no longer safe in their home.

‘Maybe I’m going to die on the way,’ she told BBC World Service when talking about their decision to flee. ‘But I’m almost dead in my country. I can’t do anything.’

In the water there is no difference if you are a refugee, a Syrian, or a German, says Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini who has become a symbol of hope for many refugees around the world.

Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini swims for joy after swimming for her life

Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini swims for joy after swimming for her life

Yusra’s journey from Syria to Germany to finally Rio Olympics

On 12 August, 2015, four and a half years since the civil war began in Syria, Mardini and her eldest sister, Sarah, left war-torn Syria with their father’s two cousins and other refugees.

Mardini and her sister traveled through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria before reaching Germany. There, the two of them were connected with a local swimming club.

The journey took them 25 days, via Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and then finally Germany – all this time their lives in the hands of armed smugglers.

The journey involved swimming for hours in the open sea and helping to drag the flimsy boat which took in water soon after the sea ‘voyage’ to Lesbos started. Her fellow passengers on this smugglers boat will be forever grateful that the Mardini sisters had been swimming from the age of three.

Starting their journey on 12 August 2015, Mardini and her sister traveled through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria before reaching Germany. There, the two of them were connected with a local swimming club.

Yusra, with her family, continueda 1,000 mile journey from Greece on foot, by train and by bus, before eventually getting to Germany.

Yusra, with her family, continueda 1,000 mile journey from Greece on foot, by train and by bus, before eventually getting to Germany.

On arriving in Berlin, a friend introduced Yusra to one of Berlin’s oldest Swimming Clubs. Within four weeks, her coach there, Sven Spannerkrebs, identified her as a prospect for Tokyo Olympics in 2020. But Yusra would not have to wait that long.

In a video released by the International Olympic Committee, the 18-year-old Syrian refugee says it was difficult maintaining her athletic training during Syria’s war. She describes looking up at the roof over a pool and seeing the sky through holes blown by bombs.

Story of Yusra Mardini