US swimmer Anita Alvarez saved by coach Andrea Fuentes at World Championships

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Two-time Olympic swimmer Anita Alvarez passed out and sank to the bottom of the pool during the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Wednesday. Her Team USA coach, Andrea Fuentes, dove to save her, lifting her limp body and tumbling her back to the surface.

A series of photos captured the dramatic rescue. One image shows Fuentes fully clothed reaching underwater while attempting to grab the unconscious swimmer. Another shows the couple entwined while Fuentes leads them both to catch their breath.

Alvarez received urgent medical attention after the rescue.

After the incident, Fuentes accused the lifeguards at the venue of not acting quickly enough given the danger.

“It was a big shock,” Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca. “I had to step in because the lifeguards wouldn’t.”

Alvarez was participating in the women’s free solo final when she stopped breathing, prompting major concern from her teammates and viewers at the venue and on social media.

In an Instagram update on Wednesday, the official US artistic swimming account shared a statement from Fuentes, who said Alvarez had been thoroughly evaluated by doctors and was recovering. Thanking people for their well wishes, she said the athlete is “feeling fine now.”

“Everything is fine,” she wrote, before highlighting the risk swimmers, like other athletes, face in their performances.

“We’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them get there. Our sport is no different than any other, just in a pool,” she said. “We cross borders and sometimes we find them.”

Alvarez, from Tonawanda, NY, started swimming artistically, better known as synchronized swimming, at the age of 5 until 2017. She is now considered a seasoned veteran and a member of Team USA competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and Tokyo Games 2020, postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.

Wednesday marked the second time Alvarez, 25, passed out while swimming. It’s also the second time Fuentes steps in to save her.

Last year in Barcelona, ​​the swimmer passed out during an Olympics qualifying competition, prompting her coach to dive in and pull her out of the water. It remains unclear what caused Alvarez’s collapse, but the sport often requires swimmers to hold their breath.

“Accelerated swimmers only catch their breath occasionally and need clean air when they have a chance to breathe,” according to the team’s official website.

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

During the coronavirus pandemic, athletes around the world have been forced to find alternative methods of training, including the US artistic swimming team, who have been forced to train alone and at times stand on their heads in their bedrooms – to perfect their leg movements – themselves when this was the case nationwide in swimming pools closed.

Fuentes told the Washington Post that the team was turning to virtual group training sessions, which were sometimes joined by other international swimmers. Alvarez, she said, taught the group a TikTok dance.

It is still unclear whether Alvarez will take part in the team event on Friday. Doctors are scheduled to examine her on Thursday.

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