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US artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez loses consciousness, is rescued by coach Andrea Fuentes

Team USA swimmer Alvarez fainted under the water at the end of her routine in the solo free final in the 2022 FINA World Championships, but is now said to be doing well.

Team USA swimmer Alvarez fainted under the water at the end of her routine in the solo free final in the 2022 FINA World Championships, but recovered.

Team USA swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued from the water by her coach Andrea Fuentes when she fainted during the artistic swimming solo free final on Wednesday, at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships, being held in Budapest.

Having completed her routine, Alvarez lost consciousness and sank to the bottom of the pool. US coach, Andrea Fuentes, dressed in normal clothing, dived in to rescue the 25-year-old athlete, taking hold of her and swimming to the surface, where, with with the help of competition assistant, they managed to get Alvarez to the edge of the pool.

Fuentes swims to rescue Alvarez
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Fuentes swims to rescue AlvarezOLI SCARFFAFP

The artistic swimmer, still apparently unconscious, was then taken on a stretcher to the pool’s medical center, amidst warm applause from the spectators in the arena, though her family and teammates were clearly in shock.

Fuentes: “With your pulse at 180, you don’t want to be two minutes without breathing”

The US Team later released a statement saying that Alvarez was doing well, while coach Fuentes spoke on Spanish radio to explain what had happened. The four-time Olympic medallist, who has been coach of the US Artistic Swimming team (the sport formerly known as Synchronised Swimming) since 2018, said Alvarez had fainted due to the effort she had put in. “She only had water in her lungs, once she started breathing again everything was ok. She’s said she wants to swim in the final. It felt like a whole hour. I said things weren’t right, I was shouting at the life guards to get into the water, but they didn’t catch what I said or they didn’t understand. She wasn’t breathing and had a really high pulse rate; I went [to her] as quickly as I could, as if it were an Olympic final.

“When I got her out she wasn’t breathing, her jaw was locked in place. There was water coming out and she still wasn’t breathing. They got her out on her back and I put her on her side, because you can’t breathe like that. She recovered very quickly. It was two minutes without breathing, and with your pulse at 180 [beats per minute] you don’t want to be two minutes without breathing. There was a moment when I was truly scared, and now the two of us are laughing together. She fainted from the effort. Today we’ve seen where the limit is; this is what being an athlete is, we want to see where the limit of the human body is, and she’s someone who likes to take it to the limit.”

Alvarez plans to compete on Friday

According to Fuentes, Alvarez plans to rest all day Thursday, before competing on Friday in the team free event. The swimmer, who was named USA Synchro Athlete of the Year in 2016 and 2019, was competing for a medal in her third World Championships, however she finished seventh.

This is not the first time Alvarez has passed out in the water. She fainted during her artistic swimming routine last year at the Olympic qualifier in Barcelona. At the time, her mother told WIVB that her daughter had fainted before, but she had not seen her faint during a competition.


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