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Anita Alvarez Rescued During the World Aquatics Championships

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By Shella Artillero - - 5 Mins Read

At the global swimming championships in Budapest on Wednesday, Anita Alvarez was at the center of a dramatic incident when the artistic swimmer had to be pulled from the bottom of the pool by her coach after losing consciousness in the water.

At the World Aquatics Championships, American Alvarez had just finished her solo free final when she passed out and sunk to the bottom of the pool. Her instructor, Andrea Fuentes, swiftly detected a problem and dove in while still wearing her clothes to raise Alvarez to the surface.

Alvarez, who was taking part in her third world championship, was not breathing as Fuentes helped take her to the pool's edge.

Team USA afterwards released a statement stating that the swimmer was doing fine after being brought from there to the pool's medical center. Alvarez still intended to participate in the team competition on Friday, according to Fuentes, despite the incident.

The Spanish publication Marca quoted Fuentes as stating, "It was a big scare." "I was alarmed when I noticed she wasn't breathing, but she's doing great right now. Once she started breathing again, everything was fine; all that was in her lungs was water. 

According to accounts, Alvarez has experienced fainting spells in the water before. A similar incident occurred at a Spanish Olympic qualifier last year when a fully clothed Fuentes once more dove into the water to save a swimmer.

Anita Alvarez of the US competes in the women’s solo free final on day six of the world championships in Budapest.

Unfortunately, I've seen it happen to her before, Alvarez's mother Karen said by phone on Wednesday. “Never in competition, though. I knew right away. On their last element, I could tell something was up.

Anita, the "old lady" and captain of the American squad, had a difficult week, according to Karen. Anita is 24 years old. Her fourth competition in three days was the duet, which included the unfortunate fourth place finish for the eight-woman team that fell short of qualifying for the Tokyo Games by one slot.

In a sense, she was worn out.

Her mother replied, "Yeah." "A lot of the competitors present were solely in the duet competition. They had just completed the double team swim on Friday. A few hours later, she returned for the solo swim. Before they returned to the hotel, it was late at night.

The duo performance then took place in the morning. She therefore had little healing time.

"Since they weren't eligible, you also experienced all of that emotion (in team). All the anticipation that has grown over the past few years.

The team's failure to qualify was heartbreaking, though not entirely unexpected. Over the past ten or so years, the United States' once-dominant position in the sport has drastically declined. Since the 2008 Olympics, the Americans haven't sent a team to the eight-woman competition.

Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva, the lone American competitors, participated in a duet in Rio. They came in ninth.

But since Fuentes took charge in 2019, the Spanish synchro legend has led the U.S. team to success. Prior to the pandemic delaying the Olympics by a year in 2020, the Americans placed second in a team competition in France. The extra time was viewed as a benefit for the United States.

Alvarez is pulled out of the pool and attended to by medical staff. Photograph by Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Alvarez, who traveled to California to join the American team when she was 16 years old, has been regarded by Fuentes as a role model for a young team. The team's failure to qualify for Japan must have made it harder to recover.

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

The head coach of the US senior national team is Spaniard Fuentes, a tremendously accomplished former synchronized swimmer who has four Olympic, 16 world championship, and 11 European championship medals to her credit.

Alvarez will be examined by medics on Thursday before a decision is made about whether or not she will compete in Friday's team event, according to a message on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page by Fuentes.

She said, "Anita is well. "The physicians tested every vital sign, and everything is fine: heart rate, oxygen levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc.