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Swimming

U.S. Artistic Swimmer Rescued After Fainting In Pool For A Second Time

TOPSHOT - A member of Team USA (R) swims to recover USA's Anita Alvarez (L), from the bottom of the pool during an incident in the women's solo free artistic swimming finals, during the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships at the Alfred Hajos Swimming Complex in Budapest on June 22, 2022. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez had to be rescued from the pool after losing consciousness in the water following her solo routine at the world championships in Budapest on Wednesday. Alvarez’s coach, Andrea Fuentes, dove in fully clothed to pull her motionless body to the side of the pool. In a statement on Instagram, Fuentes said:

Anita is okay – the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all is okay. We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country… we all have seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them to get there. 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. Tomorrow she will rest all day and will decide with the doctor if she can swim free team finals or not. Thank you for all of your well wishes for Anita.”

An underwater camera installed in the pool captured the rescue, and produced some striking images.

USA’s Anita Alvarez sinks to the bottom of the pool following her women’s solo free artistic swimming routine. (Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

This was the second time Fuentes had to dive into the pool to drag an unconscious Alvarez to safety. At an Olympic qualifying event last year in Spain, Alvarez fainted at the end of her pairs routine; Fuentes, who dove in fully clothed, and Alvarez’s partner got her to the surface where she was evaluated. Per USA Artistic Swimming (formerly known as synchronized swimming) Alvarez was shaken up as she was wheeled off the deck. However, she was cleared to continue competing, and she returned to compete later that same day.

“She fainted,” Alvarez’s mother Karen Alvarez said at the time. “They’re still trying to track down what happened … It’s happened a few times. But it seems to be when she doesn’t have enough recovery or enough sleep. She’s one that always goes all-out. Even in practice, she goes all-out.”