Swimmer Anita Alvarez is rescued after fainting during World Cup

As American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez slowly sank to the bottom of the pool on Wednesday during the World Championships in Budapest, 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 potentially life-threatening situation as her motionless body floated beneath the surface.

“I jumped back into the water because I saw that no one, not a lifeguard, jumped in,” Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist from Spain, told Spanish newspaper Marca. “I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing.”

Fuentes said Alvarez, who was being treated by medical personnel, had gone breathless for about two minutes as water filled her lungs. Doctors had “checked all vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc,” Fuentes said in an update on the Instagram account of USA Artistic Swimming, the sport’s US governing body.

Alvarez posted a brief statement about her condition on her Instagram story on Thursday, thanking supporters for their well wishes and concern and promising an update “soon”.

“But in the meantime, know that I am all right and healthy!” she wrote. Fuentes later posted a video of Alvarez and her teammates talking and laughing over lunch on Thursday.

Fuentes was praised for her quick thinking, but she knew what to do because she had done it before. At an Olympic qualifying event in Spain last year, Alvarez similarly lost consciousness at the end of a routine with her partner, Lindi Schroeder. As she did on Wednesday, Fuentes dove into the pool fully clothed and Alvarez, with Schroeder’s help, pulled back to the surface.

On Wednesday, Fuentes, dressed in shorts and T-shirt, saved Alvarez again. After Alvarez was returned to the pool, where she received medical treatment and was placed on a stretcher, Fuentes told reporters that Alvarez was “well” and that she would be re-evaluated after some rest. She didn’t rule out returning for the team event later this week. Alvarez said the same in her Instagram post, pointing out that she and her team had two days of competition left.

“Whether that’s in the water or on the sidelines for me will be decided by myself and knowledgeable medical staff,” Alvarez wrote, “but either way @artswimusa and I have a job to do and I hope everyone can understand that .”

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 placed 13th in the competition at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Games in Japan last summer. She is participating in the world championships for the fourth time.

“We sometimes 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 and others help them get there. Our sport is no different from any other, only in a pool do we push boundaries and sometimes we find them.”

Fuentes reported that “Anita is now feeling well and the doctors say she is fine too.”

“Tomorrow she will rest all day and decide with the doctor whether she can swim the free team final or not,” Fuentes said.

Alvarez had done the same at the Olympic event in Spain last year, returning to the pool just hours after passing out to perform her next routine.

She said at the time that she previously passed out during strenuous training sessions, but not during a competition. Alvarez told WIVB-TV, a television station in Buffalo, that she thought the demanding schedule and the emotional toll of the events had caused her to pass out.

“Due to the way the schedule was set up, I was the only athlete to compete in both events that day and again the next morning,” said Alvarez. “Besides the physical and emotional aspect, we are in this tight, closed pool that is very hot. The chlorine is very strong.”

Amanda Holpuch reporting contributed.

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