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Swimming brought Yahia back to life

After war, attempted suicide and a broken leg there was no belief in the future left. Yahia Mossa found the swimming in Växjö and life returned to him.
Växjö • Publicerad 16 september 2019
.Foto: Filip Sjofors

He has been in hell and back. In his homeland Syria, Yahia Mossa woke up in the racial masses after a bombing in 2013.

What was an ordinary day in his school would radically change his entire future.


– I did not understand what happened. I know that everyone screamed: "airplane, airplane". It turned dark, I saw nothing but felt that there was something heavy over me, which turned out to be a wall and I felt that my entire left side was numb, says Yahia Mossa and continues:

– I do not know why, because actually I was not scared, but I started shouting. People came and tried to pull me off. They pulled in my right hand but understood that I was stuck. Then I fainted. When I woke up, they could not drive me to the hospital because there were wars and bombs everywhere. No one could go in.

He was 14 when the bomb that hit the school fell. Hospitals were thus difficult to reach, but at least there was a smaller facility to reach in the neighborhood.

– They had created a small type of health center but did not have much stuff. There was a bed and some needles and the most important stuff. Three people were able to receive help, but the bomb destroyed a lot and 100 people were either injured or killed.

– They could not stop the bleeding. They tried bandaging but it kept bleeding for four to five hours. When I woke up, they said they had to amputate my leg. I didn't understand what they were saying. I just wanted water because I felt weak but I did not drink because the blood would not stay in the body then and I had lost a lot.

The leg could not be saved and an amputation had to be done.

Then everything else showed up. The pictures, the memories - the hell and the nightmares. The will to live reached an end. Reality tormented Yahia Mossa and future plans were equal to zero.

As if the trauma was not enough, he has also been gifted with a photographic memory. Thus, the images are replayed over and over in his head when he falls into those thoughts.

– I can see it as a video in front of me. I see everything and hear the sound and feel the scent.

Have you had horrible nightmares over the years?


– I have been trying to kill myself several times.

Silence follows the conversation before Yahia Mossa looks up and continues:

– I have also tried to kill myself during my time in Sweden. It was tough with all the memories and I had pain in my back and I went on strong medications.

Before he finally came to Sweden, Mossa and his brother had to escape from their homeland. A trip that he did not really want.

Mossa had given up and just laid down waiting for life to end.

– My brother was studying to become a nurse in Syria and had only one exam left before he was finished. But they came and said that he had to enter the military. He knew that he would either be killed or had to kill people. Then my family decided that he had to get out of Syria. Mom and dad started to collect money and tried to borrow from people while selling things out of our house.

– My uncle already lived in Sweden and said that I should try to follow my brother because I would get better help with my leg here. Then I had just been at home for two years and felt that my life was over. And I had no goal and laid in my bed just waiting to die. I remember thinking: "Soon a bomb will hit our house and I will die". I thought that it would be nice not to be alive anymore and that I would not have to think about the future. Therefore, I neglected everything and waited for the bomb to hit me.

The bomb did not arrive. Instead, he fled along with his brother through Europe and ended up following the new hell on the road in Växjö.

Among other things, he had to jump on crutches through Turkey so that his hands and armpits bleed at the same time as a boat capsized and the refugees had to try to swim.

Initially, life was no better in Sweden. Suicide attempts and pain relieved each other. Just until that last time.


At the hospital when a doctor talked to him, Mossa decided to give his life a last chance.

– I do not know what the doctor is called but I know that I had taken morphine and that I was very harsh on her. She sat by me and asked what I was doing.

– Then I decided that I would make an attempt, otherwise I would ignore this.

Then the swimming came into the picture. A place was arranged for him at a swimming school.

– I met my coach Josefine Palm. She had not seen anything like this but when I started talking to her ... she saw and she understood me. Besides my family that I had not met in three and a half years, there was finally someone who understood me. She looked at me and understood how I felt. It changed a lot.

Mossa says that he went through different levels in the swimming school and that he learned to swim. He made improvements fast and it turned out that he technically, despite his background in water, lay quite far ahead.

– I had never swum, barely been in water before or after I lost my leg. I know it was embarrassing when I jumped in and could not swim. In Syria there was no swimming schools and one does not learn to swim there as a child.

That was the time where life turned for him. He once again felt that his life was meaningful

After ten months, Yahia Mossa participated in his first competition, then it continued. At the SM, more people got their eyes on his talent in water, which might not have been so strange after three Swedish records.

– The national team was in place. They came up and started talking to me and wondered who I was and where I came from and how long I had swum. They thought it was strange that I had just swum so shortly.


Most likely, Yahia Mossa will take a place in the national team purely sporting. But there are obstacles along the way there.

– The national team has told me that I must check with the Migration Board. I must be a Swedish citizen or have a longer residence permit. My permit expires in December and I will try to solve it, so I can join the national team and compete for Sweden.

The major goal for him is the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020.

To try to qualify, he has set up a plan together with the club - Växjö Simsällskap.

– We have set up a plan for ten months and it will be very much training and very tough. I will have a coach who will focus on me, and I am very excited for it.

Swimming requires a lot of will, do you use the pictures from your life as motivation when it gets difficult?

– I do. I think of all the pain I have gone through and then I get angry. I use it and just push through.

It is no exaggeration to say that Yahia Mossa got back his life through the swimming. What was hopeless has once again had a meaning.

– The swimming has saved my life. My coach Josefine has meant a lot to me, and she is like my family here in Sweden. I know that my family is very happy that she exists and that she has become like my big sister here. When everything was tough she saw me and was there. I hope she continues to stay with me because she means everything to me. For her and for my family, I am going to make it. I am going to Tokyo in 2020.

Alexander JepsenSkicka e-post
Så här jobbar Mosaik Vxonews med journalistik. Uppgifter som publiceras ska vara korrekta och relevanta. Vi strävar efter förstahandskällor och att vara på plats där det händer. Trovärdighet och opartiskhet är centrala värden för vår nyhetsjournalistik.