BUDAPEST (AP) — Andrea Fuentes’ quick reaction averted a tragedy at the world championships in Budapest. The Spanish coach of the US team knew something was wrong when she saw artistic swimmer Anita Álvarez sink motionless to the bottom of the pool during her routine in the free solo final on Wednesday.
Fuentes, fully clothed, dove in. She swam over to Alvarez, who had lost consciousness from her, hugged her and pulled her to the surface, where another person helped lift her out of the pool. Álvarez, a two-time Olympic swimmer, 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 taking advantage of today to rest,” the USA Artistic Swimming Federation 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 outstanding solo performance and brilliantly competed in four preliminary and three final competitions over six days,” she added.
Álvarez finished in seventh place in Wednesday’s individual final. “Whether or not she will swim in the team freestyle final on Friday…will be determined by Anita and the expert medical staff,” added USA Artistic Swimming.
Fuentes also indicated that Álvarez was much better in an Instagram post. “The doctors checked all 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 get there. Our sport is no different than others, it’s just that it’s in a pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them.