U.S. artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was doing her final routine when she fainted in the pool at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. Without a second thought, Team U.S.A. head coach Andrea Fuentes leapt in to rescue her.
Alvarez had already sunk to the bottom of the pool motionless at the end of her routine during the solo free final on Wednesday when Fuentes dove in and saved her from dying.
“It was a big scare. I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it. I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she is doing very well,” Fuentes was reported as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca.
Alvarez was taken on a stretcher to the pool’s medical center as teammates and fans watched in shock. Some were left in tears and consoled each other.
“It was very intense. I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water. But we were able to take her to a good place, she vomited the water, coughed and that was it, but it was a big scare,” Fuentes told the AS newspaper.
Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medalist, made her move to rescue Alvarez after lifeguards showed no signs of movement to save the passed-out swimmer.
“When I saw her sinking, I looked at the rescuers, but I saw that they were stunned. They didn’t react,” Fuentes said.
This was not the first time 25-year-old Alvarez fainted in a competition. She had a similar incident during an Olympic qualifier in Barcelona last year.
According to Fuentes, the swimmer passed out due to the effort expended during the routine.
“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,” Fuentes said.