Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool by Team USA’s head coach after passing out in a disturbing scene at the World Water Sports Championships in Budapest. Andrea Fuentes jumped in to rescue Alvarez, who had sunk to the bottom of the pool and stopped breathing after passing out at the end of her routine during Wednesday night’s free solo final. “It was a big shock. I had to jump in because the lifeguards didn’t do it,” Fuentes said, according to the Spanish newspaper Marca.
Not dressed in swimsuits but in shorts and a T-shirt, Fuentes dove to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface before being helped to get the stricken American to the edge of the pool.
“I was scared because I saw that she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s doing really well,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medalist.
Alvarez was taken on a stretcher to the pool medical center, where teammates and fans appeared to be in shock by the pool, and some in tears to comfort each other.
“It was very intense,” Fuentes told the AS newspaper. “I think she didn’t breathe for at least two minutes because her lungs were full of water.
“But we were able to get her to a good place. She vomited the water, coughed and that was it, but it was a big scare.”
Fuentes was critical of the lifeguards’ slow response at the Aquatic World Championships, which end on Sunday after 10 days of competition.
“When I saw her sink, I looked at the rescuers, but I saw that they were stunned. They did not respond,” Fuentes reports, according to the newspaper.
‘I thought, are you going to jump in now?’ My reflexes started quickly, that’s how I am, I can’t just stare.
“I didn’t think about it, I jumped. I think it was the craziest and fastest free dive I’ve ever done in my career.
“I picked her up and lifted her. She was clearly heavy, it wasn’t easy.”
25-year-old Alvarez was in her third World Cup, but previously passed out during matches. She received a similar reaction during an Olympic qualifying in Barcelona last year.
The US artistic team released a statement from Fuentes on social media, saying that Alvarez passed out due to the effort put into the routine.
“Anita is fine — the doctors have checked all vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure,” Fuentes said in the statement.
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country… we’ve all seen images where some athletes fail to finish and others help them get there,” she says. added.
“Our sport is no different from any other, only in a swimming pool we look for limits and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now and the doctors also say she is fine.”
“Tomorrow she will rest all day and decide together with the doctor whether she can swim the final or not. Thank you for all your get well wishes for Anita.”
Topics mentioned in this article