Team USA synchronised swimmer Anita Alvarez was saved from drowning for the second time after the gallant actions of her coach Andrea Fuentes at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Wednesday.
The four-time Olympic medallist was competing in the final of the woman’s solo free event when she startingly blacked out and plummeted to the depths of the sizeable competition pool near the end of her swim.
Bizarrely, Alvarez has been the victim of such an issue before, passing out in an Olympic qualifying contest in Barcelona on June 13 last year, with Fuentes the saviour again.
With the distressing occurrence initially evading the attention of those in attendance, Fuentes dived in and succeeded in propelling herself off the foot of the pool with Alvarez in tow, receiving the aid of an unnamed male swimmer in dragging her out of the water to receive swift medical attention.
The swimmer quickly regained consciousness after the efficient work of the medical personnel and explained that she suffered a momentary lapse but otherwise felt fine.
Fuentes said: “It was a big scare. I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it. I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she is doing very well.”
The heroic coach later provided an update on the situation, reassuring concerned supporters that Alvarez was set to make a full recovery.
“Anita is okay, the doctors checked all vitals, and everything is normal; heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc.
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports.
“Marathon, cycling, cross country… we have all 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 to others, just in a pool, we push through limits and sometimes we find them.”
Fuentes released a statement on the U.S. Artistic Swimming Instagram page stating doctors would assess the athlete in due course before deciding on her participation in Friday’s team event.
Despite the incident, Alvarez scored 87.6333 points to finish seventh in the final, whilst the event was won by Japan’s Yukiko Inui, who scored 95.3667 in a fantastic routine.