A big scare occurred Wednesday at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, when American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez lost consciousness during a routine and sank to the bottom of the pool before being rescued by her coach, Andrea Fuentes, according to multiple sources.

What happened to Anita Alvarez?

  • According to a story by Andrew Das of The New York Times, Alvarez was competing in her solo event at the championships when she lost consciousness near the end of the routine.
  • When no lifeguard came to Alvarez’s rescue, Fuentes said, she made the decision to jump in the pool to try to save her.
  • According to a story by Reuters, Alvarez was examined poolside before being taken away on a stretcher.
  • In a statement on the official USA Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes is quoted as saying in part, “(Thursday) she will rest all day and will decide with the doctor if she can swim free team finals or not. Thank you for all of your well wishes for Anita.”

Anita Alvarez previous fainting incident

  • Das noted in his story that a similar incident happened to Alvarez last year at an Olympic qualifying event in Spain, and she performed again just a few hours later.
  • Like on Wednesday, Fuentes also jumped in the pool to save Alvarez in that incident, according to a story by Jerry Sullivan of WIVB-TV in Buffalo, New York, where Alvarez is from.
  • According to Sullivan’s story, that incident occurred during the freestyle duet event with teammate Lindi Schroeder.
  • “I think a lot of things mixed together led to that,” Alvarez is quoted as saying in Sullivan’s story. “Late night, little hours of sleep, then up at 5:30 the next morning to compete in the duet event. The free duet is the hardest routine, if you ask pretty much any athlete.

“The way the schedule was set up, I was the only athlete competing in both events that day and again the next morning. Besides the physical and emotional aspect, we’re in this tight, closed pool that’s very hot. The chlorine is very strong.”

Who are Anita Alvarez and Andrea Fuentes?

  • Both swimmer and coach have been to multiple Olympic Games, with Fuentes being one of the most decorated Spanish female Olympians of all time.
  • Fuentes won four Olympic medals during her career, three silvers and one bronze. She won two silvers at the 2008 Games in Beijing and a silver and a bronze at the 2012 Games in London.
  • Alvarez competed at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2020 Games (which were held in 2021 because of the pandemic) in Tokyo, finishing ninth and 13th in her event at those Games, respectively.