Athletes are known to push the levels of human endurance, but sometimes they push themselves too far. The same happened to Olympian Anita Alvarez on Wednesday, June 22. The difference is that the incident occurred underwater and could have resulted in tragedy.
Alvarez, an artistic swimmer, has made quite a splash at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary. According to the AP, she performed “exceptionally” over six days with her solo performance and participation in preliminary and final competitions.
Yet, it was on Wednesday when Alvarez caught the world’s attention as she went still during a solo routine and began to sink toward the bottom of the pool. United States swim coach Andrea Fuentes knew something was very wrong immediately. She dived in and lifted the unconscious Alvarez to the surface, from where they were helped out of the pool.
Anita Alvarez had fainted, and Fuentes prevented a tragedy with her automatic response. The coach joked, “She pushed her limits and gave her best performance.” Alvarez was instantly given medical attention, and she was reported to be feeling far better on Thursday. USA Artistic Swimming told the AP, “Anita has been evaluated by medical staff and is doing well. She will use today to rest.” The organization called the emergency “heartbreaking.”
At the same time, the situation was far less gut-wrenching than it might have been, thanks to the quick thinking and response from Andrea Fuentes. Wednesday’s dramatic rescue reminds us that athletes are not titans; they are humans, after all.
Alvarez came in seventh place in the individual finals. Whether or not she will take place in Friday’s finals has yet to be determined by the swimmer and medical staff. Fuentes reports that the athlete’s vitals are normal, and this can happen in high-endurance sports. She calls her heroic action “help to the finish line” as Alvarez had reached her limit.