Coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the pool after she saw the 25-year-old artistic swimmer sink to the bottom at the end of her routine in the women’s solo free event on Wednesday.
Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, lifted Alvarez to the surface before helping bring her to the edge of the pool.
Alvarez, who competed at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, received medical attention beside the pool, Reuters reported, and was subsequently carried off in a stretcher.
It was the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez, according to Reuters, after she leapt into the pool during an Olympic qualification event last year and pulled her to safety, along with the American’s swim partner Lindi Schroeder.
Speaking to Spanish broadcaster Cadena COPE in a radio interview
, Fuentes said the lifeguards didn’t react quickly enough on Wednesday, which is why she jumped in.
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, she was going down and I told myself, ‘Something is going on,’ and I called for the lifeguards, like, ‘Go into the pool, can’t you see she’s going down in the water?’
“And they weren’t reacting, so after a couple of seconds, I went in as fast as I could.
“I don’t think I’ve swum as fast ever before, even when I got Olympic medals and well, in the end, I was able to get her up and she wasn’t breathing … In the end, everything came out OK.”
In a statement on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said Anita Alvarez would rest on Thursday and consult her doctor to see if she would be fit to compete in the swim free team finals, which are scheduled to take place Friday, according to FINA.