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Alverez

Coach Rescues Unconscious Swimmer at World Championships


United States swim coach Andrea Fuentes has gone from mentor to life-saver overnight, after a dramatic in-competition rescue. Team USA swimmer Anita Alverez, 25, was competing in the artistic swimming solo free final at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest when things went horribly wrong. Towards the end of her swim on Wednesday, Alverez lost consciousness, quickly sinking to the bottom of the pool. Without hesitation, head coach Fuentes dived in, fully clothed, to rescue her.

Reaching the depths, Fuentes grabbed Alvarez and dragged her to the surface, where another swimmer assisted in getting her to the edge of the pool. From there, the unconscious swimmer was lifted out of the water and placed on a stretcher, where she received medical attention. The frightening ordeal was captured in full by AFP photographers Oli Scarff and Peter Kohalmi, with the images beamed around the globe.

Speaking with Spanish sports newspaper Macra, Fuentes said she felt she had to dive in as lifeguards weren’t responding. “I had to dive because the lifeguards didn’t do it,” she said. “I was scared because I could see she wasn’t breathing.”

Thankfully, the Team USA swim coach did confirm Alverez was in a healthy condition. In a follow-up statement posted to USA Artistic Swimming’s Instagram, Fuentes confirmed that Alverez, a two-time Olympian, had suffered a medical episode, however, was recovering and would be alright.

“Anita is okay – the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all is okay,” she wrote. “We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. 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.”

The near-tragedy wasn’t sufficient enough to halt the championships, however, which continued on once organisers got the all-clear. Alvarez finished seventh in Wednesday’s individual final, however, this is one seventh-place finish that won’t soon be forgotten.