Andrea Fuentes (R) recovers 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.
Getty | Oli SCARFF

Coach Rescues Swimmer Who Fainted During World Championships

It comes as no surprise that certain sports can take an imaginable toll on the body when you least expect it. You prepare the best you can, but there's always a danger that comes with doing any physical activity.

This was seen at this year's World Aquatic Championships when an American swimmer fainted while in the water, only to be rescued by her own coach who dove in after her.

Tragedy nearly struck at the FINA World Aquatic Championships.

A swimming pool with tiled lines at the bottom.
Unsplash | Thomas Park

American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, 25, fainted in the water just after her performance in the women's solo free routine, sinking to the bottom of the pool.

Luckily, her coach, Andrea Fuentes, was keeping a close watch and noticed what was happening almost immediately.

She jumped in the water right away.

Andrea Fuentes (R) recovers 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.
Getty | Oli SCARFF

She dove straight for the bottom and wrapped her arms around Alvarez, pulling her all the way up to the water's surface. It was there that another swimmer was able to help hoist Alvarez out of the water and onto a stretcher so she could receive medical attention.

Fuentes, a 39-year-old retired Olympian, explains her jump to action.

USA's Anita Alvarez (L) is recovered from the bottom of the pool by USA's coach Andrea Fuentes (R) after an incident, during 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.
Getty | Oli SCARFF

"I jumped into the water again because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was diving in. I got a little scared because she wasn't breathing, but now she's fine," she told Marca newspaper.

She also explained how Alvarez might have fainted.

Anita Alvarez of USA receives medical attention her performance competes in the Women Solo Free Final on day six of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Alfred Hajos National Aquatics Complex on June 22, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
Getty | Nikola Krstic

When speaking to Good Morning America, she said that athletes hold their breath for "a long time" while performing these routines, and when it's finished, "you really want to breathe." The lack of oxygen, shock, or accidentally inhaling water are all reasons a swimmer could faint while below the surface.

Thankfully, Alvarez is recovering now.

Anita Alvarez of Team United States is attended to by medical staff following her Women's Solo Free Final performance on day six of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Alfred Hajos National Aquatics Complex on June 22, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
Getty | Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Fuentes confirmed this on the USA Artistic Swimming Instagram page, writing in the caption, "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."

She continued, assuring Alvarez' safety.

"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 incredible gesture by an amazing woman who wound up saving a life. Amazing thinking on Fuentes' part, and best wishes to Alvarez and her health!

h/t: People