Coach Rescues U.S. Artistic Swimmer After Fainting In Pool At World Championships

A scary moment occurred at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships on Wednesday as U.S. artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez fainted in the pool at the end of her free solo routine in Budapest.

Two people dove in to help her out of the pool, one of which was her coach Andrea Fuentes, and she is said to be OK following the incident.

“Anita is okay – the doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all is okay,” Fuentes said in a statement from USA Artistic Swimming.

“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.”

Images show Fuentes, a former Spanish Olympic artistic swimmer, grabbing Alvarez at the bottom of the pool and pulling her up to the surface.

“It was a good scare, I had to dive because the lifeguards didn’t do it,” Fuentes said, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. “I was scared because I could see she wasn’t breathing, but she’s feeling great now, she’s at her best.”

At an Olympic qualification event last year, Alvarez briefly lost consciousness at the end of a routine, leading Fuentes to dive into the pool to help.

According to CBS affiliate in Buffalo, near Alvarez’s hometown, her mom said after the event that it has happened to her before outside of competition.

Alvarez, 25, is a two-time U.S. Olympian, competing in the women’s duet event at both the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. She is a two-time Pan American Games bronze medalist and was entered to compete in six different events at these 2022 World Championships.

She placed seventh in the free solo routine she completed just prior to losing consciousness.

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5 months ago

So technically during an artistic swimming routine, until the judges say so, lifeguards can’t jump in because of how long the swimmers are under the water. The lifeguard wasn’t just doing nothing, they were following correct procedures. I know all this because I’ve had to guard an actual “meet” and they told us that if someone were to drown, we couldn’t jump in until the routine is over. It’s a dumb rule.

Coach Tom
Reply to  ASUDom17
5 months ago

The organizers of that meet told you a self-serving lie. You would have been sued into oblivion had you followed their advice and a swimmer drowned.

Reply to  Coach Tom
5 months ago

I think if I were the lifeguard, my thought process would be this:

“No competition is worth a life. I will use my best judgement. The worst they can do is fire me. If I might save a life, it’s worth it.”

Perhaps if they’re going to make these rules, there should be a law that the coach is required to be 1) lifeguard certified, and 2) stand next to a lifeguard poolside during the competition.

Coach Tom
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

That’s basically my take as well. I was a lifeguard at a YMCA many years ago and there was a lot of crossover between the aquatics staff and the team (half of the lifeguards were swimmers, our coach was the aquatics director, etc.). Our coach always told us to use our judgment as lifeguards and that he would deal with the fallout from anyone who complained about us interfering with a competition to perform a rescue.

I’m not sure where a meet director gets the authority to tell a lifeguard to ignore their training.

5 months ago

If she regularly faints in the pool, maybe she should consider hanging up her goggles and retiring.

Reply to  Meow
5 months ago

totally, she should take career advice from you

5 months ago

the lifeguards’ job in Hungary is to make sure little kids don’t jump into the pool from the side, everyone knows that. So far they did a terrific job.

5 months ago

I wonder if the lifeguards are going to lose their jobs. That would a good follow up story to this.


The unoriginal Tim
5 months ago

Fair play to the athlete. Apparently ready to jump back in on Friday.

5 months ago

I have also helped pull someone off the bottom while the lifeguards did nothing. Dude was trying to see how far he could swim underwater and passed out. At least at the pools I swim at, the lifeguards are nearly useless.

5 months ago

This may just be me trying to play to both sides, but maybe the lifeguards didn’t know whether it was part of her routine or not? And the coach who knows it knew immediately if something was wrong? Idk

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Jason
5 months ago

“There goes another artistic swimmer, lying motionless at the bottom of the pool again. They’re so predictable.”

5 months ago

Although the lifeguards didn’t do what they were supposed to do, this is a clear example of why we NEED lifeguards in the pool. I’ve always hated seeing those “World’s most useless job, Olympic Swimming Lifeguard” memes

Reply to  CookedLays
5 months ago

yeah, you can’t control when a seizure is gonna happen

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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