American swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued by coach Andrea Fuentes at the World Championships

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Twice Olympic swimmer Anita Alvarez fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool during Wednesday’s water sports world championships in Budapest. Her coach on Team USA, Andrea Fuentes, dived in to save her, picked up her limp body and whizzed back to the water surface.

A series of photos captured the dramatic rescue. One photo shows Fuentes, fully clothed, stretching underwater as she tries to grab the unconscious swimmer. Another shows the pair intertwined while Fuentes guides them both up for air.

Alvarez received emergency medical help after the rescue.

After the incident, Fuente’s lifeguards on the spot accused him of not acting quickly enough in the face of danger.

“It was a big scare,” Fuentes told the Spanish newspaper Marca. “I had to jump in because the lifeguards did not.”

Alvarez competed in the women’s freestyle final when she stopped breathing, which sparked widespread concern among teammates and spectators at the venue and on social media.

In an Instagram update on Wednesday, the official US account for artistic swimming shared a statement from Fuentes who said that Alvarez had been thoroughly checked by doctors and was recovering. She thanked people for their good wishes and said that the athlete “felt good now”.

“Everything is fine,” she wrote, before highlighting the risk that swimmers, like other athletes, encounter while performing.

“We have all seen pictures where some athletes do not reach the finish line and others help them get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, she said. “We push through boundaries and sometimes we find them.”

Alvarez, from Tonawanda, NY, began artistic swimming, better known as synchronous swimming until 2017, at the age of 5. She is now considered a skilled veteran and member of Team USA, and competed in the Rio de Janeiro Games 2016 and on Tokyo Games 2020, which was moved to 2021 in the midst of the pandemic.

Wednesday was the second time Alvarez (25) fainted while swimming. This is also the second time Fuentes has jumped in to save her.

In Barcelona last year, the swimmer fainted during an Olympic qualifying event, which caused her coach to dive in and pull her out of the water. It is still unclear what caused Alvarez to collapse, but the sport often requires swimmers to hold their breath.

“Artistic swimmers only need occasional clean air when they have the opportunity to breathe,” it says on the team’s official website.

American artistic swimmers, separated and out of the pool, are still trying to stay in sync

During the coronavirus pandemic, athletes around the world were forced to find alternative training methods, including the American artistic swimming team, which was forced to train solo, sometimes standing on its head in the bedrooms – perfecting its leg movements – even though pools across the country were closed.

Fuentes told The Washington Post that the team turned to virtual group training, sometimes with other international swimmers. Alvarez, she said, taught the group a TikTok dance.

It is still unclear whether Alvarez will participate in Friday’s team event. She will be evaluated by a doctor on Thursday.