U.S. Champion Saved by Coach
The coach of the U.S. artistic and synchronized swimming team dove into the pool Wednesday, June 22, to save one of her sinking swimmers after she fainted during the World Championships in Budapest.
American swimmer Anita Alvarez was not breathing after her performance in the free solo synchronized swimming final and sank to the bottom of the pool. Andrea Fuentes jumped into the water to rescue her.
“We were very scared. I had to jump because the rescuers were not doing it,” Fuentes explained to the Spanish newspaper Marca. Fuentes went down to the bottom of the pool and pulled Alvarez up to the surface before receiving help to carry the distressed swimmer to the edge of the pool. “I was scared because I could see she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine,” Fuentes reassured.
An ambulance took Alvarez to the pool’s medical center, leaving teammates and spectators in shock. The U.S. swim team issued a statement reassuring Alvarez’s health.
Four-time U.S. Olympic coach Fuentes told a Spanish radio station that her swimmer had fainted from the exertion of her performance. “She only had water in her lungs, once she started breathing again, everything was fine,” she added. “I felt like it went on for a whole hour. I said things weren’t right, I yelled at the lifeguards to get in the water, but they didn’t hear what I said or they didn’t understand.” “She wasn’t breathing (…) I went as fast as I could like it was for an Olympic final,” she also recounted.
According to Fuentes, Alvarez planned to rest on Thursday, June 23 and was still hoping to compete in the team event on Friday, June 24, after medical examinations.
Alvarez, 25, is competing in her third World Championships. She had already fainted several times during the Olympic qualifiers last year in Barcelona.