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Coach makes dramatic rescue of artistic swimmer who fainted in pool at worlds

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Anita Alvarez, who was immediately given medical attention, was feeling much better on Thursday.

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Andrea Fuentes prevented a tragedy at the swimming world championships with her quick reaction.

The United States 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.

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The fully clothed Fuentes dived in. She swam to the unresponsive Alvarez, put her arms around her, and lifted her to the water’s surface, where another person helped get her out of the pool.

Alvarez, a two-time Olympian, had fainted.

USA’s Anita Alvarez is recovered from the bottom of the pool by a team member after an incident, during the women’s solo free artistic swimming finals during the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships at the Alfred Hajos Swimming Complex in Budapest on June 22, 2022. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
USA’s Anita Alvarez is recovered from the bottom of the pool by a team member after an incident, during the women’s solo free artistic swimming finals during the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships at the Alfred Hajos Swimming Complex in Budapest on June 22, 2022. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

“It was her best performance ever, she just pushed through her limits and she found them,” Fuentes joked.

Alvarez, who was immediately given medical attention, was feeling much better on Thursday.

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

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

Anita Alvarez of Team United States is attended to by medical staff following her Women’s Solo Free Final performance on day six of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Alfred Hajos National Aquatics Complex on June 22, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Anita Alvarez of Team United States is attended to by medical staff following her Women’s Solo Free Final performance on day six of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Alfred Hajos National Aquatics Complex on June 22, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

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 expert medical staff,” USA Artistic Swimming said.

Anita Alvarez of the U.S. receives medical attention during the women’s solo free final in Budapest on June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner
Anita Alvarez of the U.S. receives medical attention during the women’s solo free final in Budapest on June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

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

“The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc¦ all is okay,” Fuentes wrote. “We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country¦ we all have 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 than others, just in a pool, we push through limits and sometimes we find them.”

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