(WIVB) – Anita Alvarez, a two-time Olympian from Kenmore, had a scare Wednesday when she passed out in the pool during the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. But her coach said on social media that Alvarez is doing fine and has been cleared by doctors.
Alvarez passed out Wednesday at the end of her solo routine in artistic swimming, formerly known as synchronized swimming. She has passed out in the pool before, most notably during Olympic qualifying.
“Anita’s solo was so good too, it was her best performance ever, she just pushed through her limits and she found them,” coach Andrea Fuentes wrote on Instagram. “But Anita is ok and the doctors also said she is fine. 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.”
Alvarez scored 87.6333 in the women’s solo free artistic swimming event, placing seventh.
Alvarez, for what it is worth, did not seem worried about instances of passing out when discussing the Olympic qualifying incident with News 4 last June.
“I honestly thought I was asleep,” Alvarez said a year ago. “I started hearing people saying, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I thought, ‘Stop telling me that! I’m trying to sleep.’ Then I realized that no, I was still in the pool.”
The Alvarez family released this statement to News 4 Thursday:
“Thank you for your message and concern for our daughter and sister, Anita. We’ve been in close communication with her and her coaches, and are happy to report that she’s recovering nicely after a day of rest, fluids and monitoring by her medical team.
Both the physical and emotional demands of artistic swimming, as well as the high number of rigorous routines that Anita participates in, require an elite level of athletic endurance and talent.
In other high-endurance sports, it’s not uncommon for athletes to collapse or pass out from exhaustion. While artistic swimming is often observed through the lens of glamorous swimwear and makeup, it’s actually on par with the most rigorous of sports — the only difference being that it takes place in an oxygen-free environment.
While it’s difficult to be so far away during this time, we’re beyond proud of Anita’s efforts, positivity and fearlessness. We’re forever thankful for Head Coach Andrea Fuentes for jumping in and rescuing Anita after her routine. Regarding whether or not she will participate in the final events of the competition, we have full trust in the decision of her medical teams, coaches and, most importantly, Anita herself.
We’re in awe of the outpouring of support for Anita from family, friends and fans from all over the world. At this time, we simply ask for privacy, prayers for Anita’s full recovery, and continued support for the rest of USA Artistic Swimming in the finals days of the FINA World Championships.”Alvarez Family
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen to her before,” Alvarez’s mother said last year. “Never in competition, though. I knew right away. On their last element, I could tell something was up.”
Fuentes dove into the pool, fully clothed, to rescue Alvarez during qualifying. Photos from the world championships showed Fuentes making another recovery Wednesday. Alvarez was carried on a stretcher after being taken out of the pool.
“I felt more tired than usual, but I didn’t think I was going to pass out,” Alvarez said last June. “On that last arm, I’m like 45 degrees horizontal when I’m supposed to be vertical. I remember doing it and thinking I was vertical. Then the feeling kept spinning, like I was in a hamster wheel. I don’t remember anything until I got to the wall. They had already carried to me to the wall and I kind of woke up out of it and realized my coach was in the pool, and that was that.”
Alvarez attributed last year’s incident to exhaustion, competing in several events in a short span. This time, she was coming back after a foot surgery, posting a photo with crutches as recently as five weeks ago.
Alvarez previously told News 4 she’s hoping to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.