Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, who was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool after passing out, has yet to decide whether to return to the pool for her final event, the team said Thursday.
Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped in to save Alvarez, who had sunk to the bottom of the pool and was not breathing after passing out at the end of his routine in Wednesday night’s solo freestyle final.
“Anita is doing well and resting today. She has been fully assessed by our team doctor and event medical staff. She currently has one final event left to compete in at the 2022 World Championships and she will decide if she feels up to competing tomorrow if she is medically cleared,” said Alyssa Jacobs, spokeswoman for the team.
Alvarez, 25, is on the U.S. team for Friday’s team freestyle final.
“It happened to her once last year in the Olympic qualifying tournament when she was playing against her duo,” Jacobs said. “Before that she had sporadic problems with fainting, but never in competition.”
On Wednesday, Fuentes, wearing not a bathing suit but shorts and a t-shirt, dove to the bottom of the pool and dragged Alvarez to the surface.
“It was a big scare. I had to intervene because the lifeguards weren’t doing it,” Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca.
“I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in artistic swimming.
Alvarez was taken on a stretcher to the poolside medical center, with teammates and fans appearing to be in shock poolside, some in tears consoling themselves.
“It was very intense,” Fuentes told AS newspaper. “I think she went for at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water.
“But we were able to get her to a good place, she threw up water, coughed and that was it, but it was a big scare.”
Alvarez scored enough from the judges to finish seventh in the 12-woman final.
Fuentes criticized the slow response from lifeguards to the World Aquatics Championships, which end on Sunday after 10 days of competition.
“When I saw it sink I looked at the rescuers, but I saw they were stunned. They didn’t react,” Fuentes told the newspaper.
“I thought, ‘Do you want to jump now?’ My reflexes kicked in quickly, I’m like this, I can’t just watch.
“I didn’t think about it too much, I jumped. I think it was the craziest, fastest free dive I’ve ever done in my career.
“I picked her up and lifted her, obviously she was heavy, it wasn’t easy.”
The USA artistic team released a statement from Fuentes on social media, saying Alvarez passed out due to straining during the routine.
“Anita is doing well – doctors have checked all vital signs and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure,” Fuentes said in the statement.
“We sometimes forget that this happens in other high endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country…we’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others don’t. help make it happen,” she added. added.
“Our sport is no different to any other, just in a pool we push the limits and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now and the doctors say she is fine too.”
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