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The FINA World Championships were rocked by a heart-wrenching moment on Wednesday when swimmer Anita Alvarez had to be rescued after falling unconcious and sinking to the bottom of the pool. The American was competing in the final of the women’s solo free event and had just finished her routine when she began sinking to the bottom of the pool.
Alvarez’s coach, Andrea Fuentes, was first to react to the harrowing scenes as she jumped into the deep pool. The 25-year-old was not breathing when she was brought to the surface before being taken away to the medical centre.
Team USA later issued a statement that Alvarez was recovering well and that “feels good now”. Fuentes opened up on the rescue after the incident and even hinted that Alvarez will return to compete on Friday.
“Anita is okay – the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal – [her] heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, et cetera… all is OK,” she said. “We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports [such as] 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.”
It is not the first time Alvarez has lost consciousness in a pool after the American swimmer also fainted during an Olympics qualifying event in Barcelona last year. Fuentes was once again to the rescue on that occasion as she too was first to jump into the water.
The four-time Olympic medallist also took aim at the lifaguards on duty on Wednesday for not being more vigilant to what was happening. Fuentes added: “I said things weren’t right, I was shouting at the life guards to get into the water, but they didn’t catch what I said or they didn’t understand.
“She wasn’t breathing and had a really high pulse rate; I went [to her] as quickly as I could, as if it were an Olympic final. When I got her out she wasn’t breathing, her jaw was locked in place. There was water coming out and she still wasn’t breathing.
“They got her out on her back and I put her on her side, because you can’t breathe like that. She recovered very quickly. It was two minutes without breathing, and with your pulse at 180 [beats per minute] you don’t want to be two minutes without breathing.”
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