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'Uh oh, I don't feel great': Drowning swimmer breaks silence after coach's dramatic rescue
24 June 2022, 10:20 | Updated: 24 June 2022, 10:42
The Olympic swimmer who was saved from drowning by her coach has recalled the moment she realised she 'didn't feel well'.
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Anita Alvarez, 25, lost consciousness in the pool on day six of the Budapest 2022 Fina World Championships on Wednesday.
The USA artistic swimmer was then rescued by her coach Andrea Fuentes, as well as an unnamed man, who leapt to her aid and claimed the lifeguards did nothing.
"I remember feeling like it was a great performance," Alvarez said in an interview to NBC Nightly News.
"Like, my best one by far and not only just how I performed but just that I was actually enjoying it and really living in the moment too.
"So, because of that I feel really happy and really proud."
She went on: "I was like 'give everything until the very end' and I did that and then I remember going down and just being like... 'uh-oh, I don't feel too great'.
"And that's literally the last thing I remember actually."
Fuentes, 39, dragged the swimmer to safety after entering the water fully-clothed.
Alvarez praised the actions of her heroic coach, saying: "I say this all the time to her and to other people, [I'm] just so grateful to have her as a coach.
"When I found out she was coming to be our coach... I didn't believe it."
Alvarez regained consciousness shortly after being taken out the water.
She received first aid and is recovering well.
Fuentes is quoted in a Spanish newspaper as saying: "I was scared because I saw she wasn’t breathing, but now she is doing very well."
She also said: "I had to jump in because the lifeguards weren’t doing it."
Fuentes, herself a four-time Olympic medallist, told Spanish radio that Alvarez had water in her lungs when she was rescued but "once she started breathing again everything was okay" - although she added "it felt like a whole hour".
"I said things weren’t right," she said.
"I was shouting at the lifeguards to get into the water, but they didn’t catch what I said or they didn’t understand.
The 25-year-old plans to continue to compete at the World Championships, her coach confirmed.
"She doesn’t want to leave here with the photo of her unconscious at the bottom of the pool," said Fuentes.
"She will almost certainly compete."
In an Instagram post afterwards, Fuentes joked that Alvarez "just pushed through her limits and she found them".
"Anita is ok and the doctors also said she is fine," she went on.
"We all know it happens in other sports: cycling, marathon, track and field… some don’t make it to the final line and some even finish crawling or passing out.
"Our sport is very hard too. Now it’s time to rest and recover.
"Tomorrow is highlight day and free duet finals! Ready to give our best".