An American artistic and synchronised swimmer had to be saved from drowning in a pool by her coach after suddenly losing consciousness at the FINA World Aquatics Championships held in Budapest on Wednesday.
Anita Alvarez, 25, completed her routine in the artistic solo free final when she fainted and began sinking to the bottom of the pool.
Who is Anita Alvarez
Fortunately, her coach Andrea Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medallist and the most successful swimmer in Spanish history, immediately dived in and brought Anita back to safety.
Worryingly, this is not Alvarez’s first experience of this.
On June 13 last year, during an Olympic qualifier in Barcelona, she also fainted and was rescued once again by Fuentes.
“The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, all is OK,” Fuentes said.
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports like 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.”
What happened to swimmer Anita Alvarez
Fuentes said she intervened as “the lifeguards weren’t doing it,” according to the Spanish newspaper Marca.
Ultimately, Alvarez was revived quickly by medics and she later explained that despite blacking out she otherwise felt okay.
She placed seventh in the free solo final with a score of 87.6333 points. Japan’s Yukiko Unui won the event with 95.3667 points.
On the U.S. Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez is to be assessed by doctors today before a decision is finalised on her participation in Friday’s team event.