Meet the Olympic swimmer, and Syrian refugee, who saved 20 refugees from drowning

Yusra Mardini swam for her life, and now she's swimming for gold. 

The 18-year-old athlete saved 20 people when the boat they were traveling in while fleeing Syria began to sink in the Aegean Sea. 

Mardini was traveling from Turkey to Greece by boat when its motor failed, she told The Independent. The small vessel meant to carry six people was instead loaded with 20, many of whom couldn't swim. Mardini, her sister and a few others jumped in the water and swam for three hours to pull the boat and its passengers to safety in Lesbos, Greece.

Mardini, who now lives in Berlin, will compete in the women's 100-meter butterfly and freestyle events in Rio. She's on a team of 10 refugees competing at the Olympics.  

The squad also includes five runners from South Sudan, a marathoner from Ethiopia who now lives in Luxembourg, two Congolese judo athletes and another Syrian swimmer, Rami Anis. 

“I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they have dreams in their lives and they had to go,” Mardini said at a recent press conference. 

Watch her compete in the second heat for women's 100 meter butterfly at 12:31 p.m. Saturday and in the first heat for the women's 100 meter freestyle at 12:02 p.m. Wednesday.  

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