20 lives

The best fin swimmer in the nation, SHAVARSH KARAPETYAN (SHAVO), has no equal in water. His sporting achievements at the age of 22 brought him national fame, but his goal is the National Team and the World Championship in Munich. Shavo is on cloud nine about the competition and his upcoming wedding with his beloved fiancée, ALISA.

However, despite achieving the best results during the qualifying stage of the competition, and much to everyone’s surprise, Shavo does not get selected for the Team. His dreams are shattered, but his will is not broken, and with an even greater zeal, he starts training intensively for the next championship.

His pillar of support is his coach, LIPO, who turned down an offer to train the National Team due to their rejection of Shavo. Believing that Shavo is the best of the best and the one who should be representing their country on the international level, Lipo creates a special training program for Shavo.

Every morning Shavo starts with a long run around a lake with a 20kg weight in his backpack.  One day on his run, Shavo witnesses a horrific tragedy. A bus full of passengers loses control and drives full speed off a dam and into a deep lake. In less than a minute, the circles of water close above the people inside. Without hesitating for a second, Shavo dives into the murky, ice-cold water, and for twenty minutes straight, he saves lives, one by one, not knowing that deep under water is also his beloved Alisa.

The unbelievable rescue operation puts an end to Shavo’s career. A massive blood sepsis from his injuries, double pneumonia and water allergies leave Shavo fighting for his life. No one believes that Shavo can ever be a competing athlete again, not even Shavo himself. In saving others, he lost his love, Alisa, and his faith in his future.

Fighting internal fears and intense physical and emotional pain, Shavo eventually finds the will to challenge himself and ultimately stands once again at the starting line to break his 11th world record.

It wasn’t until 6 years after the tragedy that an article called “The Underwater Battle of a Champion” appeared in a national newspaper, revealing the details of the incident and the person who saved so many lives.  Shavo never looked for recognition or fame for his heroic feat, but the article stirred the entire nation, prompting letters of love and gratitude from all over the USSR. Not only did the newspaper receive 150,000 letters after the article was published, Shavo himself received 75,000 letters, and still receives them today. 

  • Title: 20 lives
  • Genre: Action, Drama
  • Language: English
  • Status: Development
  • Written by: Peter Winther
  • Producers: Olga Sinelshchikova, Svetlana Dali, Peter Winther