Team USA swimmer saved by coach after fainting in pool: ‘Everything went black’

Team USA swimmer saved by coach after fainting in pool: ‘Everything went black’
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez lost consciousness in the water and began drifting toward the bottom of the pool, her coach, Andrea Fuentes, jumped in to save her life — and now, both women are opening up about that harrowing rescue.

TOPSHOT-ARTISTIC SWIMMING-WORLD-WOMEN-2022 (Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT-ARTISTIC SWIMMING-WORLD-WOMEN-2022 (Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images)

“I know Anita very well and … I was a swimmer myself,” Fuentes, a former Olympian, told TODAY's Miguel Almaguer.

“So I know that when you finish, you really want to breathe, so as soon as she was going down immediately I (knew) that something was wrong.”

Water rescue (Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images)
Water rescue (Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images)

Alvarez, 25, who competed in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, also shared what she remembers of the incident.

“Everything went black,” she said. “It all happened really fast.”

"I remember going down and just being like, kind of like, 'Uh oh, I don’t feel too great,'" she added. "That’s literally the last thing I remember, actually."

The frightening episode played out Wednesday during the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, when Alvarez was in the middle of her solo free final routine.

She likely fainted due to exhaustion, which can happen in a high-endurance sport like artistic swimming, Fuentes noted on Instagram earlier this week.

Alvarez was underwater for nearly two minutes before being lifted to the surface by Fuentes and lifted onto a stretcher.

Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships: Artistic Swimming - Day 6 (Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images)
Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships: Artistic Swimming - Day 6 (Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images)

Her lungs had filled with water but she had a pulse, and she soon began gasping for air.

Medical examiners determined that her vitals, including heart rate, oxygen, and blood pressure, were all in good shape, Fuentes shared on Instagram yesterday.

“I think right away I knew I would be OK,” Alvarez said. “I mean, as soon as I started breathing and was awake and everything,”

She added that she is “just so grateful” to have Fuentes as a coach.

The incident unfolded over just a few minutes but for Fuentes, every moment seemed like an eternity.

“It was like in slow motion for me,” she said. “For Anita it was fast, but for me it was a year.”