Coach Andrea Fuentes was in the right place at the right time. Not just that, she was paying attention. The United States coach dove into the pool fully clothed and, in doing so, likely saved artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez‘s life. The two-time Olympian Alvarez fainted at the end of her performance in the women’s solo free event at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and was lying motionless at the bottom of the pool when her coach pulled her out.
Fuentes is a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming.
Reuters reported this is not the first time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez. She also leaped into the pool during an Olympic qualification event last year and pulled her to safety along with her swim partner Lindi Schroeder.
Fuentes later told Spanish broadcaster Cadena COPE that she jumped in because the lifeguards hadn’t reacted quickly enough. Later, in a statement on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez would rest today and consult with her doctor before making any decisions about participating in the swim-free team finals, which are scheduled for Friday.
The coach also expanded on Alvarez’s health on Instagram, saying, “The doctors checked all vitals, and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all is okay,” and adding that these things happen in high-endurance sports.
Alvarez later posted an update on her own Instagram stories confirming she is okay and healthy, though no decision about her participation in tomorrow’s event has yet been made.
The scary scene, which thankfully had the best ending possible, serves as a reminder that even high-performing athletes need strong safety regulations and someone to have their back in the case of an emergency.