Syrian refugee who almost drowned at sea eyes swimming shot at Olympics

Credit: Reuters - Sports
Published on March 6, 2019 - Duration: 01:50s

Syrian refugee who almost drowned at sea eyes swimming shot at Olympics

SHOWS: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (RECENT) (BBC - NO USE UK) 1.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE OVERLAID WITH VARIOUS OF ALJAZAIRLI AT OLYMPIC SWIMMING POOL) "

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Syrian refugee who almost drowned at sea eyes swimming shot at Olympics

SHOWS: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (RECENT) (BBC - NO USE UK) 1.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE OVERLAID WITH VARIOUS OF ALJAZAIRLI AT OLYMPIC SWIMMING POOL) "One night I was just sitting at home watching YouTube and I just came across a film about Michael Phelps.

I just decided I want to be the new person who's swimming like Michael Phelps." 2.

ALJAZAIRLI PUTTING ON GOGGLES 3.

ALJAZAIRLI JUMPING INTO POOL 4.

ALJAZAIRLI SWIMMING 5.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, ON HIS EXPERIENCE AS MIGRANT, SAYING: "After one hour of driving, the motor just stopped and the boat started breaking and the people screaming, and I was feeling like 'it's over, I was gonna die here'." 6.

ALJAZAIRLI WALKING IN OLYMPIC PARK 7.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: "It was really hard at the beginning, I just couldn't swim more than 2 or 3 metres." 8.

UNDERWATER SHOT OF ALJAZAIRLI SWIMMING 9.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: "The coach started saying to me like 'this guy's following us'.

I went to the coach and explained to him my story and he said 'if you would like, you could join us next Thursday morning'." 10.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SWIMMING COACH DANIEL BULLOCK, SAYING: "In 20 years of swim coaching, I've never seen an adult take to swimming so quickly and improve so rapidly." 11.

ALJAZAIRLI STUDYING IN HIS BEDROOM BENEATH A MICHAEL PHELPS POSTER 12.

ALJAZAIRLI WITH HIS BRITISH FAMILY GIVING HIM TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION 13.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: "It was such an honour to be with them and I'm so happy and glad just to be with them because you're not feeling alone, they are so great, they are so lovely." 14.

UNDERWATER CAMERA SHOWING ALJAZAIRLI SWIMMING PAST 15.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SYRIAN REFUGEE SWIMMER EID ALJAZAIRLI, SAYING: (SHOT OVER ALJAZAIRLI EXERCISING IN GYM) "If you really have something inside your heart, if you have a dream, if you want to be a doctor, if you want to be a swimmer or teacher, if the passion is inside, just give it a hundred percent and no matter what... never stop." STORY: In 2016, Syrian refugee Eid AlJazairli feared he would drown in the perilous waters of the Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of a better life in Europe.

Now he dreams of emulating his idol Michael Phelps and make it into the 2020 Olympics as a swimmer.

AlJazairli arrived in England unable to swim, but that didn't stop him getting inspired to learn after watching YouTube videos of the most decorated Olympian of all-time.

The 24-year-old, who lives with a British family as he seeks to find a more permanent accommodation, began frequenting the London Aquatics Centre in London where Phelps had won four of his 23 career Olympic golds.

He joined a class run by coach Daniel Bullock after telling him his story.

AlJazairli hasn't looked back since, Bullock says he has never seen anyone in his coaching career who has had such a rapid rise in their swimming ability.

AlJazairli hopes to become good enough to join the refugee team at the games, an idea which started at the last Olympics in Rio 2016, but only had 10 members who made it to Brazil.

(Production: Mussab Al-Khairalla)

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