Without swimming, I don't think I'd survive...
8th August 2016
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You hear a lot of statements like this around the Olympic Games. Athletes devote their lives to their sport and couldn't imagine not living and breathing it everyday... 


Well for 18 year old Yusra Mardini, this statement is no emotional exaggeration. 


In August 2015, Yusra was caught in the heart of the Syrian civil war and was forced to travel with her sister from Damascus through Lebanon and Turkey before eventually attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Greece. 


The sisters paid some people traffickers to take them across the Sea in a dinghy made for 6 people. The traffickers filled it with 20.


Just half an hour into their journey, the dinghy's engine overheated and broke down. The small boat almost capsized and the group were stranded. 


The people on the dinghy started to panic, children were screaming and everyone began throwing their possessions overboard to try and lighten the load. 


Yusra Mardini looked at the panic around her and decided that she would have to do something... 


The 18 year old girl jumped into the harsh Mediterranean Sea, wrapped a rope around her arm and started pulling the dinghy and it's passengers towards the hazed silhouette of the far away shore.

The swim took several hours, but between Yusra and a few other brave volunteers, they managed to get the dinghy to safety.

Yusra collapsed on the beach but soon composed herself and then began the 1,000 mile trek to Germany.

Yusra continued swimming, and although she now feels sick if she even sees the sea, she is  representing a small team of Refugee Olympic Athletes under the Olympic flag, at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the Women's 100m freestyle and butterfly.

If you want to cheer Yusra on you can watch her compete on Saturday 6th August (catch up on iPlayer) and Wednesday 10th August.

However, I am not taking anything away from team GB, who have all worked extremely hard to be where they are and I wish them all the best of luck.  You don't get to represent your country without doing an awful lot of hard work!

If you need some motivation to see what hard work can do, just watch the Olympics!  They are absolutely amazing!

I know all of us here at thebestof Cambridge will be!

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