A frightening scene unfolded at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary when Anita Alvarez, a swimmer from the U.S., passed out in the middle of a swim routine and was rescued by her coach, Andrea Fuentes. Fuentes has rescued Alvarez once in the past when she fainted last year during an Olympic qualifying event.

Alvarez was competing in the women’s solo free event in artistic swimming when she suddenly sank to the bottom of the pool towards the end of her routine. Fuentes said in a radio interview she jumped in because the lifeguards weren’t responding fast enough.

“When a swimmer finishes their routine, the first thing they want to do is breathe. So I saw that instead of going up, she was going down and I told myself, ‘Something is going on,'” Fuentes said in a radio interview with Cadena COPE.

Fuentes alerted lifeguards, but after they “weren’t reacting,” Fuentes dove in and pulled Alvarez to the surface, adding, “I don’t think I’ve swum as fast ever before, even when I got Olympic medals.”

Fuentes won four medals in synchronized swimming after competing for Spain in the Summer Olympics in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

In an interview with uSports.org last year, Alvarez praised her coach Fuentes as one of her idols in swimming and was excited to learn that Fuentes would become her coach back in 2018.

Fuentes released an official statement through the USA Artistic Swimming social media pages after Alvarez was medically reviewed. “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 that Alvarez will be resting Thursday and decide later if she’s able to swim in more events.

“She’s changed kind of everything in our organization, in our sport and with our national team and the way things are going and especially through this pandemic… She’s up for any challenge and everything that’s been thrown our way through this entire year or past two years,” Alvarez said.

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