Anita Alvarez: Coach dives into pool to save American swimmer at World Championships

Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the pool after she saw the 25-year-old artistic swimmer sink to the bottom at the end of her routine in the women’s solo free event on Wednesday.

Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, lifted Alvarez to the surface before helping bring her to the edge of the pool.

Alvarez received medical attention beside the pool, Reuters reported, and was subsequently carried off in a stretcher.

It was the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez, according to Reuters, after she leapt into the pool during an Olympic qualification event last year and pulled her to safety, along with American’s swim partner Lindi Schroeder.

Speaking to Spanish broadcaster Cadena COPE in a radio interview, Fuentes said the lifeguards did not react quickly enough on Wednesday, which is why she jumped in.

She said: “When a swimmer finishes their routine, the first thing they want to do is breathe and so I saw that instead of going up, she was going down and I told myself, ‘Something is going on,’ and I called for the lifeguards, like, ‘Go into the pool, can not you see she’s going down in the water?’

“And they were not reacting, so after a couple of seconds, I went in as fast as I could.

“I do not think I’ve swum as fast ever before, even when I got Olympic medals and well, in the end, I was able to get her up and she was not breathing … In the end, everything came out OK. “

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) – the sport’s governing body – did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for a comment on the speed of the rescue.

But in a statement to CNN on Thursday, FINA said it had been in contact with Alvarez, her team and medical staff following what it described as a “medical emergency.”

“Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by a medical team in the venue and is in good health,” the statement read.

Alvarez pictured competing during the solo free final event.

In a statement on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez would rest on Thursday and consult her doctor to see if she would be fit to compete in the swim free team finals, which are scheduled to take place Friday, according to FINA.

“Anita is okay – the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc … all is okay,” Fuentes said in the statement.

“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country … we all have seen images where some athletes do not make it to the finish line and others help them to get there,” Fuentes added.

“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 okay.”

Alvarez finished in seventh place behind Japan’s Yukiko Inui, who claimed gold, while Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and Evangelia Platanioti of Greece came in second and third respectively, according to the FINA’s website.

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