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Swim coach Andrea Fuentes has explained what was going through her mind as she rescued US swimmer Anita Alvarez after she fainted in the pool. Have a listen below:
Fuentes was watching Alvarez, an American artistic swimmer, perform at the world championships in Budapest yesterday (22 June) when she suddenly realised Alvarez wasn't coming up for air.
The coach quickly jumped into the pool fully clothed to rescue the swimmer, with images taken by an underwater photographer showing Fuentes reaching for Alvarez as she neared the bottom of the pool.
Fuentes explained immediately after the incident that she jumped into the pool because 'no one, no lifeguard', was coming to help Alvarez, and she later told BBC News she began to notice something was off when she saw the swimmer's feet positioned further apart.
"I was like, 'I don't think the blood is going [as] normal'... and then when she finished, usually what you want to do when you finish is like really breathe [but] instead of going up, she was going down."
Fuentes stressed this 'wasn't normal', explaining swimmers like Alvarez 'really want to breathe when you finish' so she 'immediately' knew something was wrong.
"I just, like, problem solving mode. I swam as fast as I could and took her out," Fuentes said, adding she was focused on making Alvarez breathe.
The coach took Alvarez's pulse to make sure her heart was still beating, but knew she wasn't breathing so moved her head sideways to allow her to get the water out of her lungs.
Fuentes continued: "She was very tight on her jaw, so I tried to wake her up and to massage the jaw because it was too tense, and then she coughed and [threw up] the water, but the heart it never stopped'.
The incident marked the second time Alvarez has fainted during an event, with the coach having previously had to come to the rescue during an Olympic qualification event last year.
In a statement released following the ordeal, Fuentes assured Alvarez was 'okay' after doctors checked her heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels and blood pressure.
"We sometimes forget that this happens in other high-endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross country… we all have seen images where some athletes don’t make it to the finish line and others help them to get there. Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool, we push through limits and sometimes we find them," the coach said.
Alvarez is set to rest today before a decision is made on whether she can take part in the free team finals.
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