A Team USA artistic swimmer who was dramatically rescued by her coach after fainting during the world aquatics championships in Budapest on Wednesday has spoken of the harrowing experience.
“I remember feeling like it was a really good performance,” Anita Alvarez, 25, told NBC Nightly News in an exclusive interview after Wednesday’s individual final, in which she finished seventh. .
“Like, my best by far and not just how I played, but just that I was really enjoying it and really living in the moment too,” he said. “So because of that, I feel really happy and really proud.”
Alvarez, who was joined by her coach, Andrea Fuentes, for the interview, said she “gave it all until the very end” of her performance.
“And then I remember coming downstairs and being like, kinda like, uh oh, like, I’m not feeling too good, and that’s literally the last thing I remember, actually,” she said.
Alvarez, a two-time Olympian, said she “started to feel a little numbness in my fingers and then honestly everything went black and it was…kind of,” she said. “Everything happened so fast.”
In shocking footage, Alvarez could be seen floating towards the bottom of the pool, seemingly unconscious, after completing her solo freestyle routine.
Her coach, Fuentes, who had already won four Olympic medals for Spain, quickly sprang into action, diving into the water to save the swimmer.
Fuentes, still fully dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, could then be seen pulling Alvarez to the surface of the water before dragging her to the edge of the pool with the help of an unnamed man. identified.
“As soon as she fell, I immediately knew something was wrong,” Fuentes told NBC News.
The rescue, she said, felt like it was “in slow motion.”
“For Anita it was quick, but for me it was a year,” she said.
After regaining consciousness, Alvarez said, “I think right away, I knew I would be fine.”
“As soon as I started breathing and woke up and everything,” she said.
The incident was not the first time Alvarez had been rescued by her coach after passing out in the water, with Fuentes also coming to her rescue during an Olympic qualifying event last year in Spain.
“I mean, I say it to her and other people all the time,” Alvarez said. “I’m so grateful to have him as a coach.”
Alvarez is expected to decide with a doctor if she can swim in the upcoming freestyle team finals at the World Aquatics Championships.