Coach saves American artistic swimmer from bottom of pool at World Championships


Andrea Fuentes avoided tragedy at the world swimming championships thanks to her quick reaction.

The United States coach knew something was wrong when she saw American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez sink motionless to the bottom of the pool during a solo free routine on Wednesday.

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

Fuentes, left, and another person, right, help bring Alvarez to the poolside at the Alfred Hajos swimming complex after passing out in the water. (Peter Kohalmi/AFP/Getty Images)

Alvarez, a two-time American Olympian, had passed out.

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

Alvarez, who immediately received medical attention, felt much better on Thursday.

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

“Watching two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez’s medical emergency yesterday and the subsequent rescue by coach Andrea Fuentes was heartbreaking for our community. She gave an exceptional solo performance and competed brilliantly in four preliminary competitions and three finals over six days.”

Unsure of future participation

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 the expert medical staff,” USA Artistic Swimming said.

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

“Doctors checked all vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar, blood pressure, etc. all good,” Fuentes wrote.

“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country. We’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t reach the finish line and others help them to make it happen. Our sport is no different than any other, just in a pool.”