Three years ago, British twin sisters Georgia and Melissa Laurie were on holiday in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. While swimming in a river on a hot June day, Melissa noticed a crocodile nearby. Panicked, they tried to swim away.

Georgia made it to the bank, but as another group member was pulling Melissa out, the crocodile reappeared and dragged her underwater. Georgia, now 31, jumped back in and fought off the crocodile twice to save her sister. For her bravery, she is now receiving the King’s Gallantry Medal from King Charles III, an award recognizing civilians who risk their lives to save others.

“It’s a silver lining to have come out of the terrible ordeal,” Georgia told the UK’s PA Media. “It softens the whole traumatic experience.” She praised Melissa’s courage, saying, “I wouldn’t be here without her; she gave me the strength to keep fighting.”

The scars from that day remain. Georgia initially found Melissa unconscious, face down in the water, and revived her before the crocodile attacked again. Georgia punched the crocodile while keeping Melissa’s head above water, but it returned a third time and performed a death roll on Melissa. Georgia managed to punch it again, causing it to release her sister, though she sustained bite injuries to her hand.

A passing boat rescued them, but they faced a 25-minute ride to shore and a 20-minute journey to the hospital. During this time, “Melissa fought her own battle for survival,” according to their JustGiving page. Melissa suffered a complex wrist fracture, severe puncture wounds to her stomach, bowel, and intestines, and multiple bite injuries to her leg, foot, and glutes. She underwent emergency surgery, was placed in a medically induced coma, developed sepsis, but eventually made a full recovery.

Now, Georgia and Melissa are preparing for the Thames Marathon—a 13-kilometer swim in one of the UK’s longest rivers—in August to raise money for PTSD UK and Compañeros En Salud, a Mexican charity providing aid and medical training in Chiapas.

“The further away it gets, the less it feels real,” Georgia said. “It sounds like a horror movie, but it’s part of our life’s tapestry.”