Retired Italian Olympic swimmer Filippo Magnini put his talents to good use Sunday, rescuing a struggling open water swimmer at a Sardinian beach.
The 45-year-old Andrea Benedetto was two days removed from marrying his boyfriend, and the couple had been floating on an inflatable unicorn when he fell into the water, which was colder than expected. Benedetto was unable to move his limbs due to a medical condition, the BBC reported. According to the report, Benedetto’s new husband jumped in the water and tried to help him, but the raft floated away, leaving both struggling. Friends of the couple yelled back to the beach for help.
Magnini, on the beach with his girlfriend Giorgia Palmas, was closer than the lifeguards and dove in and swam to Benedetto, and kept his head above water until lifeguards arrived to complete the save.
“I just did what I had to,” Magnini told Corriere dello Sport, translated from Italian. “The bather was in a lot of trouble: he was quite frightened, he was really stuck and had swallowed some seawater… When I reached him he wasn’t even able to speak, and it wasn’t easy to lift him on to the raft, so we laid him on an airbed that some other bathers had nearby.”
A local paper, L’Unione Sarda, captured images of the save:
Magini, 37, became an Olympic bronze medalist in 2004 on Italy’s 4×200 free relay and was a major player on the international swim scene from 2003-2016. Although he is officially retired, he is serving a four-year ban for “use or attempted use of doping substances,” as well as a”betting and administration or attempted administration of a prohibited substance.”