ASIA: Refugee Swimmer Mardini Fulfills Vow to Return to Budapest


Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini was in familiar territory when she made the trip to Budapest, Hungary to compete at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Mardini, who competed in the 200 free and 100 fly this week as an independent FINA athlete, had been in Budapest before after she famously swam for 3 hours in the Aegean Sea, with the help of her sister, to pull a boat carrying 20 people to safety. After pulling the boat to safety, she made a 25-day overland journey to Germany, stopping in Budapest along the way.

In Budapest, Mardini and her sister slept in a train station and weren’t staying under favorable conditions. They had trouble with the police, and she recounts receiving help from a taxi driver who drove fast enough to help the sisters escape:

It was like a Hollywood movie how fast he was drivingI don’t know if he’ll ever remember me but I’m really thankful.”

She then promised herself she would return to the city one day, but under different circumstances. She kept that promise when she arrived to compete with the best swimmers in the world.

They told me that the world championships would be in Budapest. I was really shocked.

Mardini swam the 200 free in 2:15.80 and the 100 fly in 1:07.99. That time in the 100 fly is over a second faster than she went at the 2016 Rio Olympics last summer. She plans to continue competing at least through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.



Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 3 0 1 4
Japan 0 1 1 2

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About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. She got her M.S. in Criminology from Florida State and seems exceptionally confused about which team she should cheer for during the college football season. Lauren is currently a coach at Loggerhead Aquatics …

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