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 dived 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 potentially life-threatening situation as her immobile body moved beneath the surface.
“I jumped in the water again because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was jumping in,” Spanish newspaper Marca Fuentes, a four-time Spanish Olympic medalist, told the Spanish newspaper. “I got a little scared because he wasn’t breathing.”
Fuentes said Alvarez, who was treated by medical staff, went for about two minutes without breathing as the 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 organ of US government 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, Alvarez similarly lost consciousness at the end of a routine with his duo partner, Lindi Schroeder. As she did on Wednesday, Fuentes dived into the pool fully clothed and, with Schroeder’s help, brought Alvarez back above the water.
On Wednesday, Fuentes, dressed in shorts and a shirt, saved Alvarez again. After bringing Alvarez back to the pool deck, where she received medical treatment and was put on a stretcher, Fuentes told reporters that Alvarez was “fine” and that she would be reevaluated after some rest. She hasn’t ruled out his return for the team event later this week.
Alvarez, a two-time Olympian, finished seventh in the solo free event on Wednesday. At the 2016 Rio Games, she finished ninth in the duet event and she finished 13th in the competition at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games last summer in Japan. She is competing in the world championships for the fourth time.
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports,” Fuentes said in the US artistic swimming statement. “Marathon, cycling, cross-country… we’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them get there. Our sport is no different from the others, only in the pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them “.
Fuentes reported that “Anita is feeling fine now and the doctors say she is fine too.”
“Tomorrow he will rest all day and decide with the doctor whether or not he can swim in the free team finals,” said Fuentes.
Alvarez had done the same at last year’s Olympic event in Spain, returning to the pool just hours after she passed out to perform her next routine.
She said at the time that she previously passed out during strenuous training sessions, but not in a competition. Alvarez told WIVB-TV, a Buffalo TV station, that she thought the busy schedule and emotional toll of the events had made her pass out.
“The way the schedule was set up, I was the only athlete competing in both events that day and again the next morning,” Alvarez said. “In addition to the physical and emotional aspect, we are in this narrow and closed pool which is very hot. The chlorine is very strong ».
Amanda Holpuch contributed to the report.