The US team coach staged a dramatic rescue when the American artistic swimmer passed out in the water at the FINA World Championships in Budapest on Wednesday.
Anita Alvarez, competing in her third world championship, had just finished her free skate when she was seen sinking to the bottom of the pool, apparently unconscious.
Alvarez is a two-time Olympic champion and competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games last summer in Japan.
Alvarez coach Andrea Fuentes acted quickly and dive into the pool fully dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.
Fuentes, who now coaches in the US, has previously earned Spain four Olympic medals in synchronized swimming.
Fuentes successfully pulled Alvarez to the surface of the water, where she was assisted by an unidentified man. The couple were able to drag the swimmer to the edge of the pool.
Alvarez was not breathing at this time.
Once outside the pool, Alvarez was carried away on a stretcher and given medical attention.
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USA Artistic Swim confirmed Fuentes’ statement on Instagram that the swimmer is in good health.
“Anita is fine,” Fuentes said in a statement. “The doctors checked all the vital organs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. … everything is in order.”
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country running… we have all seen footage of some athletes not making it to the finish line while others help them get there,” the statement said.
“Our sport is no different, it’s just that in the pool we overcome limitations and sometimes we find them,” Fuentes said. “Now Anita is doing well and the doctors also say she is fine.”
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper Marca, Fuentes confirmed that this not the first time Alvarez passed out in the pool.
“It was a good fear, I had to dive in because the rescuers didn’t. I was scared because I saw that she was not breathing, but now she feels great, she is in better shape, ”Fuentes told the newspaper.
Alvarez finished seventh overall on Wednesday.
According to a statement from her coach, Alvarez will take a day off on Thursday before deciding whether to compete in the upcoming free team final.
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