The Word: Everyone else looked away

Published 11:17 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022, Team USA Artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, was competing in the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary when something strange and dramatic happened. After completing her solo free routine, the 25-year-old swimmer sank to the bottom of the pool. Now, if you’ve ever watched swimming competitions, swimmers often will sink down and then pop up as a chance to relax a little before climbing out the water. The problem was…Alvarez didn’t pop back up.

The only person to notice was her coach, Andrea Fuentes. Coach Fuentes immediately dove into the pool wearing a t-shirt and shorts, grabbed her swimmer, and rose to the top. This, of course, grabbed the attention of others who then assisted in bringing Alvarez to the edge where medical attention was given before she was stretchered away. Coach Fuentes (by the way) had won four synchronized swimming Olympic medals for Spain. When asked why she dove in she stated, “I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was diving in. I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine.”

Can you imagine?!?! The coach was paying close attention to her swimmer. Everyone else looked away once she had completed. It’s just assumed that all is ok and we can now move on to the next person to compete and watch them. But then…then she didn’t come up. Instead of dwelling on the “what ifs” or the “why’s” or the “whose job’s…” the coach saw a potential issue and jumped in. Without worry of removing clothes or shoes or probably even her cell phone or keys from her pocket (I have no clue…I’m just using my imagination and what all I’d have myself) she jumped in. Wow. That’s freaking awesome! Too often we are concerned with the “what ifs” or other questions… or fears…or doubts…or we assume someone else will help out or step up or step in that we don’t dive in to help.

This coach didn’t do this to get into the newspapers. The coach didn’t do this for some reward. The coach didn’t jump in to show she still had the talents from back when she won those medals in the Olympics years before. No, no, no. She jumped in because she saw a need. It wasn’t for glory…it was love for helping a human in need. Proverbs 3:27 says “Don’t withhold good from someone who deserves it, when it is in your power to do so.”

We all have the power to help others. They may be drowning in more than water.

The question is…will you dive in and help or keep waiting for someone else?

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at