Coach Andrea Fuentes reflected on her rescue at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest.
Magic then dread: American swimmer Anita Alvarez lost consciousness in the water after her performance in the synchronized swimming final on Wednesday in Budapest, before being rescued by her coach. “I shouted to the lifeguards to get in the water, but they didn’t hear what I said or they didn’t understand“said Andrea Fuentes, former swimmer and now coach, to the Spanish newspaper branda few hours after the incident.
Alvarez, 25, collapsed in the pool at the Alfred-Hajos swimming complex in Budapest, moments after finishing his performance in the free solo synchronized swimming final. Unconscious, she sank to the bottom of the pool.
Images that have gone around the world
Faced with the inertia of the assembly and the immobility of the rescuers, whom she describes as “flabbergasted», the quadruple Spanish Olympic medalist did not hesitate for a moment: fully dressed, she dove into the pool. “I did the fastest apnea of my life, more than when I was training for the Olympics“, she told the microphone of Cadena Ser on Wednesday evening.
Using the strength of his arms, Fuentes brought Alvarez to the surface and tried to get her to breathe. A rescuer finally dived seconds after her. “I was scared because I saw that she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine“, has since reassured the coach. “She only had water in her lungs, when she started breathing again, everything was fine“.
Why didn’t the lifeguards intervene before the coach? “The rules under which lifeguards can intervene are very strict“, underlined in a press release Bela Merkely, head of the medical service of the championships. In such a situation, only the judges of the International Federation can decide to interrupt the competition for an intervention. Gold “no signal has been made in this regard“, continued the doctor. “After the coach jumped into the pool at her own risk, the local lifeguards, sensing the danger, no longer waited for the judge’s signal, but decided to intervene immediately, so that the American competitor was finally out of the pool with their helpadded Bela Merkely.
Once out of the pool, Alvarez “was immediately taken care of by a medical team“Confirmed the International Swimming Federation (FINA), in contact with the convalescent swimmer.
“She’s gone too far»
The U.S. Artistic Swimming Federation spoke in a statement on Thursday and referred to an athletic community “upsetby this incident. “Anita has been examined by medical staff and is still being monitored. She feels much better but is resting today“said the Federation. “The doctors checked his vital constants and everything is normal (…). Everything is fine“said his coach in an Instagram post.
If the swimmer comes out unscathed, this kind of incident is not a first for her. “This happened once last year, during the Olympic qualifying tournament (in Barcelona editor’s note) (…). Before that, she had sporadic problems with fainting, but never in competition“, specified the Federation. And for Fuentes, it’s one time too many: “We were terrified, even if it’s not the first time it’s happened. She is an athlete who likes to seek her limits, but this time she went too far. I told him not to do it anymore.The continuation of the competition is therefore uncertain for Alvarez without the agreement of his doctors. There is only one event left for him: the team free final scheduled for Friday.
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