Who is Andrea Fuentes? The life-saving coach who is Spain’s most decorated Olympian


Andrea Fuentes made headlines this week for saving the life of synchronised swimmer Anita Alvarez. 

Competing at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Alvarez was taking part in the final of the women’s solo event, before she blacked out and started to drown. 

Fuentes dived to the swimmer’s recuse and helped drag her out the water, where she was then treated by medical personnel and quickly regained consciousness. 

“It was a big scare,” Fuentes said. “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.”

But who is the swimming coach and how did she come to be in Budapest for the event? 

Here’s everything you need to know about the former Olympian:

Olympic history 

Fuentes competed as a synchronised swimmer for Spain at three Olympic Games between 2004 and 2012. 

Her sister Tina Fuentes, who was also a synchronized swimmer, died at the age of 34 in August 2018.

The 39-year-old won four Olympic medals in total, claiming three silvers and one bronze. This makes her the most decorated Spanish Olympian of all time, alongside tennis star Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and fellow swimmer Mireia Belmonte. 

With 16 World Championship and 11 European medals, Fuentes is also Spain’s most decorated swimmer in history. 

The Spaniard retired from elite competition back in 2013 after revealing she felt demotivated by the conflict between the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation and the coach of Spain’s national team. 


Coaching career 

After retiring from competing, Fuentes turned her attention to coaching.

In 2018 she became the USA’s senior national team head coach and started working alongside Reem Abdalazem, the former Egyptian synchronised swimmer. 

The pair had a prior working relationship, having worked with one another in synchro for four years previously. 

Fuentes gives update

After the incident in Budapest, Fuentes provided an update to concerned supporters and stressed that Alvarez was ok.

“Anita is okay, the doctors checked all vitals, and everything is normal; heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc, “ she wrote. 

“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports.

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“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.”

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