Yusra Mardini and her sister fled the war in Syria, two teenagers making their way through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Central Europe to Germany. Crossing the Mediterranean in an overloaded rubber boat, they jumped in the water when the engine died and the boat started taking on water. Here’s how the New York Times tells her story:
“Of the 20 people on board, only the Mardini sisters and two young men knew how to swim, so the four of them jumped overboard. It was about 7 at night, and the turning tide had made the sea harsh and choppy. …
“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.
“’I’m thinking, what? I’m a swimmer, and I’m going to die in the water in the end?’ she said.”