Tragedy almost struck beneath the water for Team USA as artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued by her coach after fainting in the water, and this is why Black folks don’t play that with the water.
The incident happened at the 19th edition of the FINA World Aquatic Championships, which is being held from June 18 to July 3 in Budapest, Hungary. The 25-year-old Alvarez had a fainting spell and sank to the bottom of the pool.
Alvarez had just completed her solo free routine.
This is one of the most powerful photos I’ve seen in a long time. It embodies the true human spirit of love and sacrifice. It also reminds me that we all need “rescuing” from time to time. Glad Anita Alvarez is okay and thankful to Andrea Fuentes for her act of selflessness. pic.twitter.com/ijE0ya55r5
— Brad Hardin (@chinsobelife) June 23, 2022
Luckily, her coach Andrea Fuentes, jumped into action, diving in her T-shirt and shorts and pulling Alvarez to the surface. Alvarez was then given medical attention before being taken away on a stretcher.
“Anita is much better; she is already at her best. It was a good scare to be honest,” Fuentes said to the Marca newspaper. “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 has to rest.”
Fuentes updated the world on Alvarez’s condition by making a statement on the USA Artistic Swimming Instagram page saying she was doing well and took some time to recover.
Rapid rescue.@AFP photographers Oli Scarff and Peter Kohalmi capture the dramatic rescue of USA's Anita Alvarez from the bottom of the pool when she fainted during the women's solo free artistic swimming finals at the Budapest 2022 World Aquatics Championships pic.twitter.com/8Y0wo6lSUn
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 23, 2022
“It was kind of a shocking thing to see because as soon as I looked back down at the robotic camera I had this kind of clear view of the scene while everyone in the arena was watching it through the surface of the water,” remote robotic camera underwater photographer Oli Scarff said to CNN.
“It went immediately from photographing these beautiful pictures of this amazing athlete performing … to then just in a heartbeat, now we’re photographing a near-death situation. I was quite shaken, actually.”
However, FINA later announced that Alvarez would not compete in the team final. The world governing body released a statement.
“FINA convened a meeting that included three representatives of FINA’s Sports Medicine Committee, the FINA Executive Director, the Team USA doctor, the Team USA team leader, and the President of USA Artistic Swimming. The meeting lasted an hour. Following these discussions, FINA determined that Anita Alvarez should not compete (June 24th). The health and safety of athletes must always come first.
“While FINA understands why this decision will have been disappointing to the athlete, it was a decision that was made with her best interests in mind. FINA is delighted that Anita Alvarez has already made such a strong recovery, and looks forward to seeing her in competition again soon.”
Anita Alvarez loses consciousness in pool at world championships in Budapest…
"Spaniard Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, jumped into the pool after she saw Alvarez sink to the bottom at the end of her solo free final routine."
– CNBC pic.twitter.com/96AUscNLnP
— Dr. James E. Olsson (@DrJamesOlsson) June 23, 2022
The life-saving coach put Spain on the map in a sport dominated by the United States, Canada, and Japan. Andrea Fuentes, along with Gemma Mengual, made Spain only the sixth nation to medal in synchronized swimming at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Behind Russia’s untouchable aquatic stars, Anastasiya Dayvdova and Anastasiya Yermakova, Fuentes and Mengual are second. Fuentes has personally claimed three European gold medals before the 2004 Olympics, missing only the gold in the solo competition, taken by her partner Mengual.
With Mengual absent, Fuentes claimed solo medals at the 2010 Europeans (silver) and the 2011 World Championships (silver and bronze).
The rescued swimmer, Anita Alvarez, was participating in two artistic swim events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.