Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the pool after seeing the 25-year-old artistic swimmer sink to the bottom at the end of her routine in Wednesday’s women’s solo free event.
Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, lifted Alvarez to the surface before helping her carry her to the poolside.
Alvarez, who competed in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, received medical treatment next to the pool, Reuters reported, and was later taken away on a stretcher.
It was the second time that Fuentes had to rescue Alvarez, according to Reuters, after jumping into the pool during an Olympic qualifying event last year and rescuing her, along with American swimming partner Lindi Schroeder.
She said, “When a swimmer finishes his routine, the first thing he wants to do is breathe and then I saw that instead of going up, he was going down and I said to myself, ‘Something is happening’ and I called the lifeguards, like, ‘ Go to the pool, can’t you see it’s going down into the water? ‘
“And they weren’t reacting, so after a couple of seconds I got in as fast as possible.
“I think I didn’t swim like almost ever before, even when I got Olympic medals and well, in the end I managed to get her up and she wasn’t breathing … In the end it all turned out fine.”
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) – the sport’s governing body – did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the speed of the rescue.
But in a statement to CNN on Thursday, FINA said it had been in contact with Alvarez, his team and medical staff following what it described as a “medical emergency”.
“Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by a medical team at the facility and is in good health,” the statement read.
In a statement on the U.S. artistic swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez will rest Thursday and consult with his doctor to see if he would be able to compete in the free-team swimming finals, which are expected to take place on Friday, according to FINA. .
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country skiing … we have all seen images where some athletes do not make it to the finish line and others help them get there,” Fuentes added.
“Our sport is no different from the others, only in the pool, we push the limits and sometimes we find them. Anita now feels well and even the doctors say she is fine”.
Alvarez – United States’ 2021 Artistic Swimming Athlete of the Year – finished seventh. The Japanese Yukiko Inui won gold, while the Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and the Greek Evangelia Platanioti finished second and third respectively.
Born in Kenmore, NY, Alvarez competed in the 2012 US Olympic trials at the age of 14. Four years later, she was part of the team, finishing ninth in the duet at Rio 2016. she was 13th in the same event in Tokyo 2020.