Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool by Team USA’s head coach after fainting in a harrowing scene at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. Andrea Fuentes jumped in to save Alvarez, who had sunk to the bottom of the pool and was not breathing after passing out at the end of his routine in Wednesday night’s solo freestyle final. “It was a big scare. I had to intervene because the lifeguards weren’t doing it,” Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca.
Fuentes, dressed not in a bathing suit but in shorts and a t-shirt, dove to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface before being helped to bring the injured American to the edge of the swimming pool.
“I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in artistic swimming.
Alvarez was taken on a stretcher to the poolside medical center, with teammates and fans appearing to be in shock poolside, some in tears consoling themselves.
“It was very intense,” Fuentes told AS newspaper. “I think she went for at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water.
“But we were able to get her to a good place, she threw up water, coughed and that was it, but it was a big scare.”
Fuentes criticized the slow response from lifeguards to the World Aquatics Championships, which end on Sunday after 10 days of competition.
“When I saw it sink I looked at the rescuers, but I saw they were stunned. They didn’t react,” Fuentes told the newspaper.
“I thought, ‘Do you want to jump now?’ My reflexes kicked in quickly, I’m like this, I can’t just watch.
“I didn’t think about it too much, I jumped. I think it was the craziest, fastest free dive I’ve ever done in my career.
“I picked her up and lifted her, obviously she was heavy, it wasn’t easy.”
Alvarez, 25, was in her third world championships but has already passed out in competition. She suffered a similar reaction during an Olympic qualifier in Barcelona last year.
The USA artistic team released a statement from Fuentes on social media, saying Alvarez passed out due to straining during the routine.
“Anita is doing well – 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 high endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country…we’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others don’t. help make it happen,” she added. added.
“Our sport is no different to any other, just in a pool we push the limits and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now and the doctors say she is fine too.
“Tomorrow she will rest all day and decide with the doctor whether or not she can swim the free team finals. Thank you for all your good wishes for Anita.”
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