U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez rescued by coach Andrea Fuentes after fainting during world championship routine

·3 min read

Andrea Fuentes prevented a tragedy at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Wednesday.

Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming for Spain, jumped into the pool to save U.S. swimmer Anita Alvarez when she noticed her sink motionless to the bottom of the pool during a solo free routine, Reuters reported.

Alvarez, a two-time Olympian, was unresponsive in the water and a fully clothed Fuentes, a coach for the U.S., dived in to grab her and lift her to the surface. Another person helped Alvarez out of the pool.

Alvarez had fainted in the water and received medical attention beside the pool. She was taken away on a stretcher, via Reuters. USA Artistic Swimming said she is doing "much better" as of Thursday and Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca the same. Via Reuters:

"Anita is much better, she is already at her best. It was a good scare, to be honest," Fuentes said.

"I jumped into the water again because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was jumping in. I got a little scared because she wasn't breathing, but now she's fine. She has to rest."

The rescue was captured by photographers at the world championships, including Oli Scarff of the AFP.

Alvarez, 25, posted photos from her routine on her Instagram Stories page in the hours after the rescue. She finished seventh in the individual final. It is the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez, per Reuters. The first came in 2021 during an Olympic qualifying event when Fuentes pulled her and swim partner Lindi Schroeder to safety.

USA Artistic Swimming thanked fans for the well wishes for Alvarez and said her status for Friday will be determined by the swimmer and medical staff.

"Watching yesterday's medial emergency of two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez was heartbreaking for our community," the organization said in a statement. "Anita gave an exceptional solo performance and has competed brilliantly in four preliminary and three final competitions across six days of the 2022 FINA World Championship event.

"Anita has been evaluated by medical staff and will continue to be monitored. She is already feeling much better and using today to rest. Whether or not she will compete in the free team final on Friday, June 24th, will be determined by Anita and expert medical staff."

Fuentes also referenced the rescue on Instagram after crediting the team's performance and choreographies.

"Anita’s solo was so good too, it was her best performance ever, she just pushed through her limits and she found them," Fuentes joked in the caption with an emoji. "But Anita is OK and the doctors also said she is fine. We all know it happens in other sports: cycling, marathon, track and field… some don’t make it to the final line and some even finish crawling or passing out. Our sport is very hard too. Now it’s time to rest and recover. Tomorrow is highlight day and free duet finals! Ready to give our best."

Anita Alvarez and Andrea Fuentes
Andrea Fuentes, right, swims to recover US swimmer Anita Alvarez from the bottom of the pool during an incendent in 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 via Getty Images)