An American swimmer who passed out in the pool during the World Aquatics Championships on Wednesday was dramatically rescued by her coach who assumed the role of a lifeguard in a potentially life-threatening incident that has made world headlines.
Coach Andrea Fuentes, 39, dove to the bottom of the pool to save Anita Alvarez, 25, who was in the midst of a solo routine at the Budapest, Hungary, competition. Alvarez, who was subsequently treated at the adjacent medical center, is said to be fine after her vital signs checked out as normal, according to an Instagram post from USA Artistic Swimming.
“Fuentes, dressed not in swimming gear but in shorts and a T-shirt, dove to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface before being assisted to get the stricken American to the edge of the pool,” the New York Post reported.
The younger swimmer, fortunately, regained consciousness shortly afterward.
“I tried to calm her down and make her breathe,” Fuentes told ABC News. She reportedly began administering CPR until medics took over.
View this post on Instagram
“It was a big scare. I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it,” Fuentes, a four-time synchronized swimming Olympic medalist from Spain who has won numerous other championships in her career, also said, according to the Daily Mail. “I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she is doing very well. Anita is doing much better.”
“Fuentes said she realized something was wrong when Alvarez ‘went down and didn’t react’ rather than coming up after her routine. ‘When a swimmer finishes, the first thing they want to do is breathe,’ she said,” the Daily Mail added. “I went in even faster than when I was going for Olympic medals,” she noted.
In the above-referenced Instagram message, Fuentes wrote, in part, that “We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country…we all have seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them to get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, we push through limits and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now and the doctors also say she is okay.”
Alvarez, who is from the Buffalo, N.Y. area, reportedly was not breathing for about two minutes.
This is one of the most powerful photos I’ve seen in a long time. It embodies the true human spirit of love and sacrifice. It also reminds me that we all need “rescuing” from time to time. Glad Anita Alvarez is okay and thankful to Andrea Fuentes for her act of selflessness. pic.twitter.com/ijE0ya55r5
— Brad Hardin (@chinsobelife) June 23, 2022
American synchronized swimmer Anita Alvarez faints and sinks to bottom of the pool during World Championships. Her coach, Andrea Fuentes, heroically dives in and saves her. Alvarez is recovering well. pic.twitter.com/ne369qFUhg
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) June 23, 2022
This is reportedly the second time around for both Alvarez and Fuentes, when the former fainted during an Olympic qualifying event in Barcelona last year and was rescued by her mentor.
Doctors will evaluate Alvarez to determine if she will be cleared to swim in the free team finals on Friday.
Watch a report aired by ABC’s Good Morning America:
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