As American swimmer Anita Alvarez slowly sank to the bottom of the pool at the World Championships in Budapest on Wednesday, her coach Andrea Fuentes quickly scanned the bottom of the pool and made an instant decision: She dived in to save her.
Alvarez, a 25-year-old from upstate New York, passed out at the end of her solo performance at the event, creating a potentially life-threatening situation as her immobile body drifted under the surface.
“I jumped into the water again because I saw that no one, not the lifeguard, was jumping,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist from Spain. This was reported by the Spanish newspaper Marca.. “I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing.”
Fuentes said Alvarez, who was treated by medical staff, did not breathe for about two minutes as the water filled her lungs. The doctors “checked all the vital organs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc.,” Fuentes said in an interview. update published on the Instagram account of USA Artistic Swiming, the sport’s American governing body.
Fuentes was praised for her quick wits, but she knew what to do because she had done it before. At last year’s Olympic qualifiers in Spain, Alvarez also passed out at the end of a routine with her partner Lindy Schroeder. As on Wednesday, Fuentes dived into the pool fully dressed and with the help of Schroeder pulled Alvarez back above the water.
On Wednesday, Fuentes, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, saved Alvarez again. Returning Alvarez to the pool deck, where she received medical treatment and was placed on a stretcher, Fuentes told reporters that Alvarez was “fine” and that she would be re-examined after some rest. She hasn’t ruled out returning to the team event later this week.
Alvarez, a two-time Olympian, finished seventh in the free skate on Wednesday. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, she placed ninth in the duet competition, and last summer in Japan she placed 13th in the competition at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Games. She participates in the world championships for the fourth time.
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports as well,” Fuentes said in a US Sport Swimming statement. “Marathon, cycling, cross-country… we have all seen footage of some athletes not reaching the finish line, while others help them get there. Our sport is no different, it’s just that in the pool we overcome limitations and sometimes we find them.”
Fuentes reported that “Anita is doing well now and the doctors also say she is fine.”
“Tomorrow she will rest all day and will decide with her doctor if she can swim the free team finals or not,” Fuentes said.
Alvarez did the same at last year’s Olympics in Spain, returning to the pool just hours after collapsing to complete her next routine.
Then she said that she had previously passed out during strenuous training, but not in competition. Alvarez said WIVB-TVtelevision station in Buffalo that she believes the busy schedule and emotional toll caused by the events caused her to pass out.
“Given the way the schedule was set up, I was the only athlete to compete in both events that day and again the next morning,” Alvarez said. “In addition to the physical and emotional aspect, we are in a cramped indoor pool, which is very hot. Chlorine is very strong.
Amanda Holpuch made a report.