‘The Swimmers’ Netflix Movie: What We Know So Far

Tigran Asatryan What's on Netflix Avatar

the swimmers netflix movie everything we know so far

Nathalie Issa as Yusra Mardini, Manal Issa as Sara Mardini in The Swimmers. Cr. Laura Radford/Netflix

In an effort to expand its library of content inspired by real-life stories, Netflix is set to release The Swimmers this year. The Swimmers will tell the story of two Syrian sisters who fled their war-torn home in Damascus, had to swim in choppy Mediterranean seas to reach the Greek island of Lesbos as asylum seekers before going on to compete in the pool at the Rio Olympic Games.

The movie is directed by BAFTA winner Sally El Hosaini, whose credits include Babylon, My Brother the Devil and The Fifth Bowl. El Hosaini also co-wrote the script for The Swimmers with Enola Holmes scribe Jack Thorne.

Sally El Hosaini The Swimmers

Pictured: Sally El Hosaini

The film is produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole. And Stephen Daldry is executive producing.

The Swimmers is among Netflix’s biggest 2023 Oscar hopefuls, according to experts in the field.

The movie holds a 15 rating by the BBFC and while primarily in English, also features Arabic. It has a runtime of 134 minutes.

Here’s everything else we know about Netflix’s The Swimmers:

What’s the plot of The Swimmers?

Mardini sisters

The Mardini sisters – Picture: Getty Images

The Swimmers depicts the journey of the Mardini sisters, who almost drowned as they left their home country Syria to flee war.

After making their way to Lebanon and the on to Turkey, the pair were arranged to be smuggled into Greece in an overcrowded dinghy that suffered an engine failure amidst the Aegean Sea. The sisters swam for three and half hours to stop the boat from capsizing, ensuring the safety of everyone else on the dinghy. In 2016, Yusra Mardini competed in swimming events at the 2016 Olympics as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.

What’s the Netflix release date for The Swimmers?

The film, shot across UK, Belgium, and Turkey in 2021, is set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival 2022 on September 8th, but the Netflix release date is still unknown.

The Swimmers will be one of a number of Netflix movies at TIFF with others including Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Wendell & Wild.

It’s notably the opening night gala movie

In any case, it shouldn’t be too long after. Director Sally El Hosaini said about the TIFF inclusion:

“I’m ecstatic. What an honor and privilege to open TIFF with the inspirational true-life story of the Mardini sisters. A city as multicultural and diverse as Toronto is the perfect place to debut our film that elevates the visibility and voice of refugees, reminding us that the human capacity to survive is stronger than most of us know.”

TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey also commented:

“I was deeply moved by the story of these two sisters and wowed by the storytelling. The Swimmers was the very best kind of surprise when we saw it this summer — an exciting, epic journey and the arrival of an important filmmaker. I’m thrilled that audiences in Toronto will be the first to discover Sally El Hosaini’s remarkable film, and that this year on our Opening Night we can honor everyone who risks everything to reach a better, safer life.”

Who is cast in The Swimmers?


Nathalie Issa as Yusra, Manal Issa as Sarah in Netflix’s The Swimmers. Cr. Laura Radford/Netflix

Netflix’s The Swimmers stars sisters Manal Issa and Nathalie Issa as sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini.

They are joined by Ahmed Malek, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Kinda Alloush, James Krishna Floyd and Elmi Rashid Elmi.

Are you looking forward to The Swimmers on Netflix? Let us know in the comments.

Written by

Tigran is our resident previews writer. He works on collecting everything known about upcoming Netflix Original projects and also is editor-in-chief of Redanian Intelligence. Resides in France.