US Coach Performs Dramatic Rescue of Artistic Swimmer at Worlds


“It was the best performance of his life, he just pushed his limits and found them.”

Anita Alvarez of the United States, center, is carried out of the pool after collapsing during the artistic swimming solo free final at the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Andrea Fuentes averted a tragedy at the world swimming championships with her quick reaction.

The US coach knew something was wrong when she saw artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez sink motionless to the bottom of the pool during a solo free routine on Wednesday.

Fuentes, fully clothed, dove in. She swam over to the unresponsive Alvarez, hugged her and lifted her to the surface of the water, where another person helped her out of the pool.

Álvarez, a two-time Olympian, had passed out.

“It was his best performance, he just pushed his limits and found them,” Fuentes joked.

Alvarez, who received immediate medical attention, was feeling much better Thursday.

“Anita has been evaluated by medical personnel and will continue to be monitored. She is feeling much better and is using today to rest,” USA Artistic Swimming told The Associated Press in a statement.

“Seeing yesterday’s medical emergency of 2x Olympian Anita Álvarez and subsequent rescue by coach Andrea Fuentes was heartbreaking for our community. She gave an exceptional solo performance and brilliantly competed in four preliminary and three final competitions over six days.”

Alvarez finished seventh in Wednesday’s individual final.

“Whether or not she will swim in the free team final on Friday…will be determined by Anita and the expert medical staff,” USA Artistic Swimming said.

Fuentes also said Alvarez was much better in an Instagram post.

“The doctors checked all the vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. everything is fine,” Fuentes wrote. “Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country… we have all seen images in which some athletes do not reach the finish line and others help them to get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them.

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