Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the pool after watching the 25-year-old artistic swimmer sink to the bottom at the end of her routine in the women’s solo freestyle event on Wednesday.
Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, lifted Alvarez to the surface before helping her back to the edge of the pool.
Alvarez, who competed in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, received medical treatment poolside, Reuters reported, and was later taken out on a stretcher.
It was the second time Fuentes had to save Alvarez, according to Reuters, after jumping into the pool during an Olympic qualifying event last year and pulling it to safety, along with American swimming partner Lindi Schroeder.
She said: “When a swimmer finishes their routine the first thing they want to do is breathe and so I saw that instead of going up it was going down and I was like, ‘Something’s going on “and I called for the lifeguards, like, ‘Go in the pool, can’t you see it’s going down in the water?’
“And they weren’t reacting, so after a few seconds I went in as fast as I could.
“I don’t think I swam as fast as ever, even when I had Olympic medals and well, in the end I managed to pick her up and she wasn’t breathing… In the end, everything came OK.”
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 personnel following what it described as a “medical emergency.”
“Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by an on-site medical team and is in good health,” the statement said.
In a statement posted to the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Alvarez would rest Thursday and see her doctor to see if she would be fit to compete in the freestyle swimming team final, which is scheduled to take place on Friday. according to FINA.
“Sometimes we forget that this happens in other high endurance sports. Marathon, cycling, cross-country… we’ve all seen images where some athletes don’t reach the finish line and others don’t reach the finish line. help make it happen,” Fuentes added.
“Our sport is no different to any other, just in a pool we push the limits and sometimes we find them. Anita feels good now and the doctors say she is fine too.”
Alvarez – 2021 USA Artistic Swimming Athlete of the Year – finished seventh. Japan’s Yukiko Inui took gold, while Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina and Greece’s Evangelia Platanioti finished second and third respectively.
Born in Kenmore, NY, Alvarez competed in the 2012 US Olympic Trials when she was 14 years old. Four years later, she made the team, finishing ninth in the duo at Rio 2016. She finished 13th in the same event at Tokyo 2020.