While US artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was performing her solo free routine Wednesday in competition at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, her coach noticed something was wrong: Alvarez had sunk to the bottom of the pool.
Andrea Fuentes immediately dived in, pulling Alvarez to the surface, where the two were helped out by another person, according to published reports.
Alvarez had fainted.
In dramatic images captured by Agence France-Presse, Fuentes can be seen reaching underwater for Alvarez, who was floating with her arms down near the bottom of the pool.
Images show Fuentes kicking toward the surface with Alvarez — who was clearly unconscious — in tow. Topside, they were helped by an unidentified man.
Speaking to Spanish news outlet Marca, Fuentes said Alvarez had gone two minutes without breathing.
“Anita has been evaluated by medical staff and will continue to be monitored” USA Artistic Swimming said in a statement posted Thursday to Instagram. “She is feeling much better and using today to rest.”
Sources pointed out that “this happens in other high-endurance sports.”
“Our sport is no different than others, just in a pool,” she said in a statement by USA Artistic Swimming. “We push through limits and sometimes we find them.”
On her Instagram, Alvarez expressed thanks and said she would give an update “soon.”
“But in the meantime I know that I am okay and healthy,” she wrote.
Despite the attention the incident and gripping photographs have garnered, Alvarez and the team seem to be focused on finishing the competition.
“I appreciate all of the messages of support and hope everyone can respect that my team and I still have 2 more days of competition to be focused on here in Budapest.”
Artistic Swimming said that while Alvarez had been evaluated and will continue to be monitored, it was unclear as of Thursday whether she would compete in the free team final Friday.
“Whether that’s in the water for me or on the sidelines will be determined by myself and expert medical staff,” Alvarez wrote. “But either way [the team] and I have a job to finish and I hope everyone can understand that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.