U.S. swimmer rescued by coach after sinking during competition


(CNN) — U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued from the bottom of the pool by her coach after she fainted while competing at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, according to Reuters.

Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the pool after she saw the 25-year-old artistic swimmer sink to the bottom at the end of her routine in the women’s solo free event on Wednesday.

Fuentes lifted Alvarez to the surface, and another U.S. swimmer helped bring her to the edge of the pool.

Alvarez, who competed in synchronized swimming at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, received medical attention beside the pool, Reuters reported, and was then carried off in a stretcher.

It was the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez, according to Reuters. The athlete also fainted during a duet competition at an Olympic qualification event last year.

Speaking to Spanish broadcaster Cadena COPE in a radio interview, Fuentes said the lifeguards didn’t react quickly enough on Wednesday, which is why she jumped in.

She said: “When a swimmer finishes their routine, the first thing they want to do is breathe and so I saw that instead of going up, she was going down and I told myself, ‘Something is going on,’ and I called for the lifeguards, like, ‘Go into the pool, can’t you see she’s going down in the water?’

“And they weren’t reacting, so after a couple of seconds, I went in as fast as I could.

“I don’t think I’ve swum as fast ever before, even when I got Olympic medals and, well, in the end, I was able to get her up and she wasn’t breathing … In the end, everything came out OK.”

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) — the sport’s governing body — did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for a comment on the speed of the rescue.

But in a statement to CNN on Thursday, FINA said it had been in contact with Alvarez, her team and medical staff following what it described as a “medical emergency.”

“Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by a medical team in the venue and is in good health,” the statement read.

In a statement on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez would rest on Thursday and consult her doctor to see if she would be fit to compete in the swim free team finals, which are scheduled to take place Friday, according to FINA.

“Anita is okay — the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc … all is okay,” Fuentes said in the statement.

“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,” Fuentes added. “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 — USA’s 2021 Artistic Swimming Athlete of the Year — finished seventh. Japan’s Yukiko Inui claimed gold, while Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and Evangelia Platanioti of Greece came second and third respectively.



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