The Swimmers Plot Synopsis
The Swimmers follows two sisters as they try to pursue their dreams in war-torn Syria. Yusra has big dreams of becoming an Olympic gold medalist, but her swimming bursts into flames when the country is under attack.
After coming to terms with Death, Sara and Yusra’s father agrees to send them to Germany for refuge and redemption. With Nizra as their guide and confidant, the two girls set out across dangerous seas, trusting shady traffickers all the way in hopes of making it to Germany.
For those who make it this far, the real struggle for freedom begins as each of these refugees tries to start a new life for themselves. Of course, that means Yusra is back swimming and trying to make it to bigtime. But is that a step too far for her?
Will the sisters make it to Germany?
Sara and Yusra eventually make it to Germany. They decide against boarding the same truck as the other refugees they made the trip with, thanks to a shady man who just before attempted to rape Yusra. As a result, Sara, Yusra, and Nizar try their luck at marching to Germany along with the other refugees, having previously seen news reports about it.
After spending the night in a hotel using the last of the girls’ money, Nizar has exciting news. He managed to get them a bus ride to Berlin, and they don’t even need tickets! While the girls are dubious, especially after being ripped off by a truck driver earlier in the film, they set out anyway and make it to Germany.
Will Yusra take part in the Olympics?
Yusra’s dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer only intensifies when the girls are registered at a refugee center. While Sara is more focused on helping others, especially with the news of the increasing bombings in Syria, Yusra is instead focusing on her swimming.
By chance, Yusra finds a swimming club and talks to the trainer Sven. Yusra impresses Sven with her times and trains hard to be part of the refugee Olympic team. Though initially hesitant about being an Olympian, people will “feel sorry”, words of inspiration from Sara and Nizar help her take the plunge.
Yusra makes her way to Rio, where she overhears other athletes lamenting her lack of effort and that she is only there for a gesture of sympathy, unaware of Yusra’s heroic swimming efforts early in the film. However, Yusra soon silences her doubters, outperforming everyone else and winning her run.
How does The Swimmers end?
However, Nizar’s story is less heartwarming. He realizes that he is stuck in eternal hell. He can’t get a job without a work permit, and the only way to get one is to sit and wait in the refugee home. He’s essentially the bird in the cage and as we leave things it’s unclear if the door will be opened for him.
Sara and Yusra reunite after the swim, with the former deciding to help other refugees and Yusra continuing to work toward her Olympic dreams. As the sun goes down, the two run into the water and start laughing together.
This water is incredibly symbolic as the last time we saw them properly in the water by the sea was after they landed in the rubber boat. Instead of hitting the boat with a knife out of anger and fear, the girls have finally found peace.
What’s the real story? What really happened?
The European migrant crisis has been well documented on the internet, including in this comprehensive timeline on our sister site.
Yusra currently resides in Hamburg, Germany. She was part of the Refugee Olympics team and won against four other women at the Rio Olympics. Luckily, Yusra and Sara’s parents managed to escape from Syria and live with her. She continues to excel at swimming and is an inspiration and voice for refugees around the world.
Meanwhile, Sara worked to rescue refugees on Lesvos. In 2018, she was charged with smuggling along with several other colleagues and could face 20 years in prison if found guilty.
The film ends on a sobering note. Since 2011, 5.7 million Syrians have become refugees. There are over 30 million refugees worldwide, half of them are under 18 years old.
Read more: The Swimmers Movie Review