Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool by the Team USA manager after she passed out in a distressing scene at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest.
Andrea Fuentes intervened to save Alvarez, who had sunk to the bottom of the pool and was not breathing after passing out at the conclusion of his routine during Wednesday night’s solo free final.
“It was a big scare. I had to jump because the lifeguards weren’t doing it, ”Fuentes reported from the Spanish newspaper Marca.
Fuentes, dressed not in a bathing suit but in shorts and a T-shirt, dived to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface before being helped to carry the stricken American to the edge of the pool.
“I was scared because I saw that he wasn’t breathing, but now he’s doing very well,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in artistic swimming.
Alvarez, born in Kenmore, New York, was carried on a stretcher to the pool medical center, with teammates and fans appearing to be in shock by the pool, with some in tears comforting each other.
“It was very intense,” Fuentes told the AS newspaper. “I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because his lungs were full of water.
“But we managed to get her to a good place, she threw up the water, she just coughed, but it was a big scare.”
Fuentes criticized the lifeguards’ slow reaction to the Aquatic World Championships, which will end on Sunday after 10 days of competition.
“When I saw it sink, I looked at the rescuers, but I saw that they were stunned. They did not react, “Fuentes reported in the newspaper.
“I thought, ‘Are you jumping in now?’ My reflexes kicked in. I’m like that, I just can’t stare.
“I didn’t think about it too much, I jumped. I think it was the craziest and fastest free diving I’ve ever done in my career.
“I picked her up and lifted her, obviously it was heavy, it wasn’t easy.”
25-year-old Alvarez was in her third World Championship but has already passed out during competitions. She suffered a similar reaction during an Olympic qualifier in Barcelona last year.
The US art team released a statement from Fuentes on social media, stating that Alvarez had passed out due to exertion during the routine.
“Anita is fine – the doctors have checked all vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure,” Fuentes said in the statement.
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country … we have all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them get there, “she added.
“Our sport is no different from the others, only in the pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them. 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 will be able to swim in the free team finals. Thanks for all your good wishes for Anita.