Audience applause turned to anguish as Anita Álvarez fainted and sank to the bottom of the pool, Martin Stew reports
A US artistic swimmer was dramatically saved from the bottom of the pool by her coach when she fainted after her solo routine at the World Aquatics Championships.
Anita Álvarez, 25, had just completed her solo free final at the championships in Budapest on Wednesday when she collapsed and sank to the bottom of the pool.
Her coach, Andrea Fuentes, soon realised something was wrong and dived fully clothed into the pool to rescue Álvarez and pull her up to the surface.
The swimmer, who is competing at her third world championships, was not breathing when Fuentes and another helper dragged her poolside.
Fans and teammates were emotional as she was taken away on a stretcher to the medical centre - but Team USA later issued a statement saying she was "okay".
“The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc… all is okay," said Fuentes via a USA Team statement.
"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. Anita feels good now and the doctors also say she is okay".
Four-time Olympic medallist Fuentes said she jumped in because the lifeguards weren't - and she knew something wasn't right.
She told Catalan radio programme, RAC1's Tu diràs: "I shouted at the lifeguards to jump in but they weren't doing it, they weren't reacting. I saw that no-one was coming, so I dived in as fast as I could and swam towards Anita."
"I've never swum so fast in my entire life, not even when I was an Olympic medalist!" joked Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medallist.
She explained that "usually, when you finish a choreography, you're so tired that the first thing you want to do is breathe - you need it" and that it was "not normal" to see Álvarez drop to the bottom of the pool.
Fuentes said it was a "big scare" because she believes her teammate was not breathing for at least two minutes because her lungs were full of water.
It is the second time Álvarez has collapsed following a routine, after she briefly lost consciousness at the end of her duet during the Olympic qualifier in Barcelona last year.
Fuentes dived in fully clothed into the pool to rescue her.
But the team still hope Álvarez will be able to compete in the free team finals.
"Tomorrow she will rest all day and will decide with the doctor if she can swim free team finals or not," Fuentes added in her statement.