U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez rescued by coach Andrea Fuentes at world championships

U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez rescued by coach Andrea Fuentes at world championships

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Two-time Olympic swimmer Anita Álvarez fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool during Wednesday’s World Swimming Championships in Budapest. Her coach on Team USA, Andrea Fuentes, dove in to save her, lifting her limp body from her and carrying her back to the surface of the water.

A series of photographs captured the dramatic rescue. One image shows Fuentes, fully clothed, reaching out underwater as she tries to grab the unconscious swimmer. Another shows the couple entwined as Fuentes guides them both for air.

Álvarez received urgent medical attention after the rescue.

After the incident. Fuentes accused local rescuers of not acting quickly enough in the face of danger.

“It was a big scare,” Fuentes told Marca de España newspaper. “I had to jump because the lifeguards weren’t doing it.”

Álvarez was competing in the women’s singles free final when she stopped breathing, sparking widespread concern among her teammates and spectators at the venue and on social media.

In an Instagram update on Wednesday, the official U.S. Artistic Swimming account shared a statement from Fuentes, who said Alvarez had been thoroughly checked out by doctors and he was recovering. He thanked people for their well wishes and said the athlete was “feeling good now.”

“All is well,” he wrote, before highlighting the risk swimmers, like other athletes, face while performing.

“We have all seen images where some athletes do not reach the finish line and others help them get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool,” he said. “We push boundaries and sometimes we find them.”

Álvarez, from Tonawanda, NY, began artistic swimming, better known as synchronized swimming, until 2017, at the age of 5. She is now considered a skilled veteran and a member of Team USA, competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the 2020 Tokyo Games, which have been rescheduled for 2021 amid the pandemic.

Wednesday marked the second time Alvarez, 25, has passed out while swimming. It also marks the second time Fuentes has jumped to save her.

In Barcelona last year, the swimmer fainted during an Olympic qualifying event, prompting her coach to dive in and pull her out of the water. It’s unclear what caused Alvarez’s collapse, but the sport often requires swimmers to hold their breath.

“Coming up for air only occasionally, artistic swimmers need clean air when they get a chance to breathe,” reads information on the team’s official website.

Separated and out of the pool, US artistic swimmers still trying to stay in sync

During the coronavirus pandemic, athletes around the world were forced to find alternative training methods, including the US artistic swim team, which was forced to train alone, sometimes standing on their heads in their bedrooms. , perfecting her leg movements, even when pools across the country were closed. closed.

Sources told The Washington Post that the team turned to virtual group workouts, sometimes joined by other international swimmers. Alvarez, he said, taught the group a TikTok dance.

It is unclear if Álvarez will participate in Friday’s team event. She is due to be evaluated by doctors on Thursday.

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