US swimmers can compete in championships again after dramatic pool rescue

Anita Alvarez was competing in the women’s singles free final when she fainted and fell to the bottom.

Budapest, Hungary:

Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, who was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool after fainting, has yet to decide whether to return to the pool for her final event, the team said Thursday.

Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped to save Alvarez, who had drowned at the bottom of the pool and was not breathing after passing out at the conclusion of his routine during Wednesday night’s singles free final.

“Anita is doing fine and is resting today. She has been thoroughly evaluated by both our team doctor and event medical staff. She currently has one final schedule left to compete at the 2022 World Championships and She will decide if she thinks she’s ready for it. Compete tomorrow if she’s medically cleared,” said team spokeswoman Alyssa Jacobs.

Alvarez, 25, is in the US squad for Friday’s team free final.

“That’s what happened to her at the Olympic qualification tournament last year, when she had her doubles event,” Jacobs said. “Before this, she has had sporadic problems with fainting, but never in competition.”

On Wednesday, Fuentes, not in swimming gear but in shorts and a T-shirt, dived to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface.

“It was a big scare. I had to jump because the lifeguards weren’t doing that,” Fuentes was quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper Marca.

“I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s doing great,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medalist.

Alvarez was carried on a stretcher to the pool’s medical center, with teammates and fans seen by the pool in shock, some consoling each other in tears.

“It was very intense,” Fuentes told AS newspaper. “I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were filled with water.

“But we were able to get him to a nicer place, he vomited water, coughed and that was it, but it was a big scare.”

Alvarez scored enough from the judges to finish seventh in the 12-woman final.

Lifeguard ‘stunned’

Fuentes was critical of the slow response of lifeguards at the Aquatic World Championships, which ends on Sunday after 10 days of competition.

“When I saw him drowning, I looked at the rescuers, but I saw that they were stunned. They did not respond,” Fuentes was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“I thought, ‘Will you jump in now?’ My reflexes started fast. I’m like, I can’t stare.

“I didn’t think about it, I jumped. I think it was the craziest and fastest free dive ever in my career.

“I picked her up and lifted her, obviously she was heavy, it wasn’t easy.”

The United States Artistic Team released a statement from Fuentes on social media, saying that Alvarez had fainted due to the effort expended during the routine.

“Anita is fine – the doctors checked all the essentials and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar level, blood pressure,” Fuentes said in the statement.

“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathons, cycling, cross country … we’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others need them to get there.” Let’s help,” she said. added.

“Our sport is no different from others, just in a pool, we cross boundaries and sometimes we find them. Anita feels well now and the doctor also says she is fine.”

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