Last summer Yusra Mardini, 18, struggled to push a disabled dinghy overloaded with refugees through frigid waters off the Turkish coast, according to NBC News.
A competitive swimmer for most of her childhood in Syria, Mardini and her sister were trying to reach Europe, like millions more who had been left homeless from the country's civil war.
It took three hours to push the boat to shore. Mardini and her sister eventually arrived in Germany — a 25-day trek that ended in September 2015 in a Berlin refugee camp where they reunited with their father and found a local swimming club to take them in.
By force of will and the help of strangers, she will soon swim in the Rio Olympics.
Instead of representing Syria, she is one of 10 athletes — winnowed from a pool of 43 candidates — on the Refugee Olympic Team, made up of men and women who've been forced from their homelands by war or persecution and brought together by the International Olympic Committee.