Eid Aljazairli’s journey from Syria to the UK was surrounded by water, but as he sat in a boat that took him across the Mediterranean and to the UK, one thing was certain: He couldn’t swim.
In fact, until January of this year, 24-year-old Eid had never been in a swimming pool before.
It all started when he happened to come across a video of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps as he rested in his room at a YMCA hostel in Walthamstow, which ignited a fire in his heart. Now, he swims four hours a day for the chance to one day compete in the very same competition.
He has been in the country since 2016, having left behind a budding career as an accountant after the war broke out in Syria. He settled first in Scotland and later in Essex.
‘I didn’t even know who Michael Phelps was,’ he says, speaking to indy100 on the phone.
But as I watched him, he was amazing. He was so determined, flying in the water. There was something inside me that was off, and it got switched on – like a passion.
‘I want to learn how to swim,’ he decided resolutely.