As American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez slowly sank to the bottom of the pool at the world championships in Budapest on Wednesday, her coach Andrea Fuentes quickly scanned the pool deck and made a split-second decision: She dove in to save her. .
Alvarez, a 25-year-old from upstate New York, had lost consciousness at the end of her solo routine at the event, creating a life-threatening situation as her motionless body floated below the surface.
“I jumped back into the water because I saw that no one, no lifeguards, jumped,” Fuentes, a former Spanish Olympic medalist, told Spanish newspaper Marca. “I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing.”
Fuentes said Álvarez, who was being treated by medical personnel, had spent about two minutes without breathing as water filled her lungs. Doctors had “checked all vital signs and everything was normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc,” Fuentes said in an update posted on the Instagram account of USA Artistic Swimming, the US governing body. of sport.
Fuentes was hailed for her quick thinking, but she knew what to do because she had done it before. At an Olympic qualifying event last year in Spain, Álvarez also passed out at the end of a routine with her partner, Lindi Schroeder. As she did Thursday, Fuentes dove into the pool fully clothed and, with Schroeder’s help, she pulled Alvarez back out of the water.
On Thursday, Fuentes, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, saved Alvarez again. After returning Álvarez to the pool deck, where she received medical treatment and was placed on a stretcher, Fuentes told reporters that Álvarez was “fine” and that she would be re-evaluated after getting some rest. She didn’t rule out her return for the team event later this week.
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports,” Fuentes said in the USA Artistic Swimming statement. “Marathon, cycling, cross country… we have all seen images where some athletes do not reach the finish line and others help them to get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them.
Fuentes reported that “Anita feels fine now and the doctors say she is fine as well.”
“Tomorrow he will rest all day and decide with the doctor whether or not he can swim in the free team finals,” said Fuentes.
Álvarez had done the same thing at last year’s Olympic event in Spain, returning to the pool just hours after passing out to perform his next routine.
Álvarez is a two-time Olympian. She finished ninth in the duo event at the Rio 2016 Games and placed 13th in competition at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games last summer in Japan. She is competing at the world championships for the fourth time.