The Swimmers ending explained – what happened to Sara and Yusra?

November 23, 2022
Romey Norton 0
Ending Explained, Film, Netflix, Streaming Service
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We discuss the ending of the Netflix film The Swimmers which will contain spoilers. What happened to Sara and Yusra? Let’s dive in.

This is a powerful and eye-opening film based on an unbelievable true story. Whilst the ending feels a little rushed, it’s a positive outcome for what is a tragic story. Their whole journey is a dark, slap in the face of a reminder of what people are currently going through to find peace and refuge in a new home, in a new part of the world because their current country is at war. This film is an emotional piece and is a must-watch.

The film starts in 2011, in Damascus, with the sun shining, everyone having fun around a pool, and families enjoying a holiday. In the pool are two girls who are holding their breath, Sara and Yusra, timing themselves. We cut to the girls at a family party, dancing, singing, eating, and having fun. It’s a bright, colorful, hopeful beginning to the film.

Cut to four years later, the girls are dancing and partying on a rooftop bar, to the song “Titanium”, and as they’re dancing, in the background you can see and hear explosions. It’s simple but extremely effective in the reality of their situation. That Syria is at war, and they’re young, hopeful girls trying to live their best life. 

Sara wants to leave, follow her friends and flee to Germany to seek refuge, and Yusra dreams of being in the Olympics. As their father is against the idea, he changes his mind when the girls are competing and the pool area is bombed, killing two people and almost his daughter Yusra. Now, with his blessing, the girls embark on their journey to Germany. 

As the film continues, we watch them traveling, and see how they are manipulated into paying to travel in a raft. The raft is overfilled with people, and no one leads them. 

On the raft, it begins to slowly sink, and the passengers have to throw their belongings overboard, and we see Yusra throwing her medals into the sea and watch them slowly disappear. As the boat is still sinking, and the engine is not working, Sara is the first to throw herself into the sea and begins to swim. Yusra follows her older sister’s footsteps and together they swim and pull the boat. As they’re trying, they hear their father’s voice saying “find your lane, swim your race” giving them the determination to keep going. Whilst this section of the film isn’t long, it’s extremely anxiety-provoking and filled with tension. 

When they finally see land and pull the raft to it, there is a powerful image of the sisters laying in the water holding on to one another. On the beaches of Greece, there is a widening aerial shot of the beach covered in hundreds, if not thousands of life vests from previous refugees. Then whilst walking through Greece they’re treated like scum, being ignored and left, until they find a camp for refugees, where they can get food, water, and shelter. 

The group all travel and walk hundreds of miles together, to make it to the next stage of their journey. They meet a stranger, who charges them to put them all in a giant truck and take them to Hungary. This doesn’t happen and they are dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no clue where they are. Again, they meet another stranger who charges them to take them to Budapest. The sisters are separated as they get into different cars, so there is one English speaker per car. This is stressful and intense to watch as they get to the border. 

The sisters are reunited, and from Budapest are put into a truck to Germany. Here is where they say goodbye to their friends they have made along the way. It’s very poignant and sad. 

Yusra, Sara, and their cousin are in a hotel, and for the first time in a long time feel safe and reflect on their journey so far. This comfort doesn’t last long as they need to keep going. The final stint is to get onto a bus to Germany. When they arrive, everyone is singing and cheering, filled with so much relief and hope. 

Slow motion shot of the three of them dancing and then crying into each other’s arms. We jump to two months later and the girls are still in the camp for refugees, watching Russia bomb their home country on television. 

Yusra works out, using what she can to train, to the music of “Unstoppable” by Sia. Then she takes herself to a local pool to train, where they train twice a day, except Sundays. Their new coach Sven helps them by getting them a room, and swimming gear. The film takes a more positive turn, where we see Yusra training and trying, with a goal to aim for, her life has a structure and direction. 

Hitting her personal best, Yusra is going to Rio! Sara decides that she is going back to Lesbos, to help other refugees who are crossing. 

Netflix film The Swimmers ending explained

The final twenty minutes of the film see Yusra traveling to Rio, and shots of the first-ever refugee Olympic team. Shots of the opening ceremony. Bright lights, enthusiasm, and then flashbacks of the traumas Yusra went through in the sea. Sara surprises her sister in Rio, showing her a video from her family and friends she met on her journey, giving her that last push of inspiration to win a medal for everyone.

We watch Yursa swim and win a medal. The final shots are of the sisters playing in the sea, laughing together. A lovely comparison to the first shots in the film of the girls playing in a pool. This sisterly bond is powerful and has been through more than any of us can even imagine going through and surviving. 

The ending is showing audiences that hope and determination and kindness are what we need to succeed; that refugees are people with hopes and dreams and should be helped and not discouraged or ignored. People are capable of incredible things, all they need is a chance. I hope this film makes people aware of the problems refugees face, and more help is given to them. 

Facts about the real sisters and refugees are played before the credits roll. Important and relevant information, just to give the film a final kick.

What did you think of the ending of the Netflix film The Swimmers? Comment below.

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