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Three-time Olympic synchronised champion calls for more checks on US swimmer Anita Alvarez

Three-time Olympic synchronized swimming champion Alla Shishkina has urged US officials to conduct more thorough checks on Anita Alvarez and to “look deeper” into why she passed out while competing in the World Championships and had to be rescued by her coach .

Alvarez was taking part in the final of the free solo event for women in Budapest on Wednesday when she fell unconscious and sank to the bottom of the pool in shocking and disturbing scenes at the Duna Arena.

Her coach Andrea Fuentes jumped into the water and dragged her back to safety with the help of a male lifeguard. Alvarez quickly regained consciousness after being rescued from the pool and immediately received first aid.

The 25-year-old will now be back in action just 48 hours after the incident as she queues up to take part in the team event on Friday.

Amazingly, it is the second time that Alvarez has passed out in a swimming pool during a match, with Fuentes again coming to her rescue at an Olympic qualifying event in Barcelona.

And Shishkina, who won gold medals in team competition at three consecutive Olympics between London 2012 and Tokyo 2020, believes Alvarez needs even more checking before the American competes again.

Anita Alvarez lays on the bottom of the pool at the World Championships in Budapest after passing out mid-season yesterday

Anita Alvarez lays on the bottom of the pool at the World Championships in Budapest after passing out mid-season yesterday

Alvarez's coach Andrea Fuentes (pictured right) said she had to jump in because 'the lifeguards weren't doing it'

Alvarez’s coach Andrea Fuentes (pictured right) said she had to jump in because ‘the lifeguards weren’t doing it’

Alvarez is rescued by her coach after losing consciousness and falling to the bottom of the pool during the World Championships

Alvarez is rescued by her coach after losing consciousness and falling to the bottom of the pool during the World Championships

Alvarez (center) regained consciousness shortly after his rescue and is recovering well in the Hungarian capital Budapest

Alvarez (center) regained consciousness shortly after his rescue and is recovering well in the Hungarian capital Budapest

“I think the reason must be looked for somewhere deeper,” the Russian said told Sport24† ‘Maybe check the blood vessels in the brain, do a deep encephalogram.

‘If someone loses consciousness in this way, then of course everything is not okay, you have to look at your health. I wish Anita was okay, but I’d consider a full investigation.

“Athletes are people who, even if it’s dangerous to perform, will do it anyway.”

Shishkina argues that Alvarez may have little choice in taking part in the team event given her position in the squad, suggesting the American’s problem was not caused by the warm temperatures in the pool.

It's not the first time the swimmer has passed out in the pool - she did last year in Barcelona and Fuentes saved her then too

It’s not the first time the swimmer has passed out in the pool – she did last year in Barcelona and Fuentes saved her then too

The Olympic athlete regained consciousness shortly after being dragged from the bottom of the pool by her heroic coach

The Olympic athlete regained consciousness shortly after being dragged from the bottom of the pool by her heroic coach

“I don’t think Anita will even think about whether she will survive or not, but will just act,” Shiskina said.

‘I saw that in the group she stands on. Most often, the person standing on the supports is indispensable, so she simply has no choice, she will have to perform.

“As for hot water, no. It is not the first time that matches have been held in this group. When it’s warm outside, the water is cool. It is usually 26-27 degrees. It’s quite comfortable.

‘I played in the outdoor pool at the World Cup in Rome in 2009, it was +42 outside. And none of our team fainted.’

Members of the US swim team watching the event screamed as they watched in horror as Alvarez passed out in the pool at the end of her routine

Members of the US swim team watching the event screamed as they watched in horror as Alvarez passed out in the pool at the end of her routine

The US swim team was visibly shocked by the horrific incident at the Duna Arena in the Hungarian capital

The US swim team was visibly shocked by the horrific incident at the Duna Arena in the Hungarian capital

In a statement, USA Swimming said it was “heartbreaking” to watch the medical emergency unfold. “She gave an exceptional solo performance and competed in four preliminary and three final matches for six days,” the governing body said.

“Anita has been evaluated by medical personnel and will be monitored further. She feels much better and uses today to rest. Whether she will swim in the final of the free team on Friday 24 June will be determined by Anita and expert medical staff.’

The US team was visibly upset by the horrific incident and was then seen comforting each other by the pool.

Fuentes, speaking on Spanish radio on Wednesday, said she realized something was wrong when Alvarez “went down and didn’t respond” rather than getting up after her routine. “When a swimmer is ready, the first thing they want to do is breathe,” she said.

Alvarez was participating in the final of the women's free solo event in Budapest on Wednesday when the incident took place

Alvarez was participating in the final of the women’s free solo event in Budapest on Wednesday when the incident took place

Three-time Olympic champion Alla Shishkina thinks that US officials Alvarez .  need to check further

Three-time Olympic champion Alla Shishkina thinks that US officials Alvarez . need to check further

The coach said she beckoned to the lifeguards for help, but they didn’t see her, “so I jumped in myself. I went there as fast as I could. I went in even faster than when I was going for Olympic medals.”

Fuentes added: “We’ve looked at a lot of things and the pressure is good. We did a CT scan of her brain, she’s fine.

‘In our sport it sometimes happens, if we are breathless for a long time, with very high heartbeats and sometimes the oxygen is not where it should be, that we pass out.

‘But it is that we are synchronized for many hours. What happens is that we do exercises to last as much as possible for the competition, and today it happened during the competition.’

Alvarez finished seventh in the event, which was won by Japan’s Yukiko Inui.

Alvarez (pictured) quickly regained consciousness after being rescued from the pool, received immediate first aid and is reportedly recovering well

Alvarez (pictured) quickly regained consciousness after being rescued from the pool, received immediate first aid and is reportedly recovering well

Most synchronized swimming requires athletes to hold their breath for no more than one minute at a time.

In 2010, Olympic medalist Fran Crippen died during an open water swimming event in the UAE. The long-distance champion was 26 years old when he competed in the 10,000m.

Fellow swimmers didn’t realize he was missing until they reached the finish line, leading to a desperate search to find him.

His body was found two hours after the end of the race by deep-sea divers 500 meters from the coast.

Other swimmers said at the time that heat may have been a factor, with water temperatures reaching 30°C and participants reporting heat-related symptoms after completing the race. A report found Crippen died of a “heart defect.”

FINA has not publicly commented on the Alvarez incident. The global governing body posted on social media about Inui’s final and victory, but did not name the American swimmer.

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