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Saudi Mariam Binladen: 1st Woman to Swim the Thames River

It’s not every day that people who swim in teeth as their daily profession actually dive into the Thames River. But wait, it’s also not everyday that Muslim women do it, either! Meet Mariam Binladen, the Saudi dentist who set the record as the first woman ever to completely swim the full 101 miles of the Thames River.

Mariam is not only the first woman to do it, let alone Arab Muslim woman, but she is also one of three people to complete it in recent history! Her journey started two years ago, in which she began practicing for this challenge. Mariam intended this swim to raise awareness about the Syrian Refugee Crisis and also to encourage other women, as told on the MENA Herald,

“I am thrilled and very proud to be the first woman to swim 101 miles of the Thames. I wanted to show that a young woman from Saudi Arabia can achieve a lifelong ambition, whilst at the same time raise awareness to bigger causes, particularly the plight of thousands of suffering Syrian orphan refugees. I also want to encourage more women from around the world to participate in sport and show them that anything is possible.”

Her route started at Folly Bridge near Oxford on 3rd June and finished at Teddington Lock in London at 1:05 PM on 12th June. The swim was completed over 10 days and navigated 32 locks. The Thames River is known to be one of the most dangerous rivers to swim, as it has strong currents and is highly polluted in some of its areas.

This challenge is an inspiration to all women, Arabs and non-Arabs alike, all over the world. Mariam showed that any woman, with enough practice, courage and determination, can do anything she sets her mind to! This wasn’t her first feat. In August 2015, Mariam swam the Hellespont open water swim in Turkey and was the first Saudi 
female to complete the race from Europe to Asia.

A film covering her 10 day journey will be coming out later this year to support the Syrian Refugees, so stay tuned for more on this phenomenal woman!

Don’t forget to leave a smile 🙂 !

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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