An American artistic swimmer had to be rescued by her coach after fainting during a routine at the World Aquatics Championships.
Anita Alvarez, 25, had completed her solo free final at the championship competition in Budapest on Wednesday (June 22), when she suddenly fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool.
The swimmer was competing at her third world championships when her coach, Andrea Fuentes, quickly realized something was wrong and dived into the pool fully clothed to pull her up to the surface.
After Fuentes dragged Alvarez to the surface, she was then assisted to get the swimmer to the edge of the pool so she could receive medical attention. Team USA later shared a statement on social media to confirm Alvarez’s condition and said she was doing well.
“Anita is OK,” the coach said in the statement. “The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, all is OK.”
Per The Guardian, this was reportedly the second time Alvarez had lost consciousness following a routine. A similar scene played out at an Olympic qualifier in Barcelona, Spain last year when Fuentes jumped into the pool to make a rescue.
For the most recent incident, Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medallist, was critical of the slow reaction of the lifeguards at the Aquatic World Championships.
“It was a big scare. I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it.” Fuentes reported to the Spanish newspaper Marca. “I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she is doing very well.”
Speaking to local media, Fuentes also said: “It felt like a whole hour. I said things weren’t right, I was shouting at the lifeguards to get into the water, but they didn’t catch what I said or they didn’t understand.”
“She wasn’t breathing. I went as quickly as I could as if it were an Olympic final,” she added.
According to the coach, Alvarez “feels good now” and plans to rest all day on Thursday, before her doctors can confirm if she will compete in the team-free event on Friday.
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports,” the coach wrote on Instagram. “Marathon, cycling, cross country… we all have seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them to get there. 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. Tomorrow she will rest all day and will decide with the doctor if she can swim free team finals or not.”
The swimmer, who was named USA Synchro Athlete of the Year in 2016 and 2019, was competing for a medal in her third World Championships, however, she finished seventh on Wednesday.