Photos show dramatic rescue by coach after swimmer faints in pool at championships

American swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued by her coach Wednesday at the world championships in Budapest when she lost consciousness during her competition and began to sink to the bottom of the pool.

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Andrea Fuentes, Alvarez’ coach and a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, jumped in to help Alvarez after she saw her begin to sink in the pool. Alvarez had just completed her solo free final swim at the World Aquatics Championships.

“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.”

Alvarez was not breathing when Fuentes dragged her to the side of the pool, she said. Alvarez was transferred to the facility’s medical center.

“It was a big scare,” Fuentes told the Spanish newspaper Marca. “I was scared because I saw she was not breathing, but now she is doing very well. She only had water in her lungs, once she started breathing again everything was OK.”

Team USA later issued a statement saying Alvarez was doing well. On the USA Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez would be assessed by doctors on Thursday before a decision was made on her competing in Friday’s team event.

“Anita is OK,” Fuentes said. “The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc … all is OK. 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.

“Anita feels good now and the doctors also say she is OK. [On Thursday] she will rest all day and will decide with the doctor if she can swim free team finals or not. Thank you for all of your well wishes for Anita.”

It was the second time Fuentes has had to pull Alvarez from the pool, the first being during an Olympic qualification event last year when she fainted in the pool.

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