Former world champion and Olympic swimmer Filippo Magnini saved the life of a man who was drowning off a Sardinian beach, according to an eyewitness.
The bather got into trouble while attempting to chase a swan float that had been carried away by the wind, Marco Bencivenga, a newspaper director holidaying on the Italian island, told CNN.
Italian Olympic bronze medallist and ex-world champion, Filippo Magnini, rescues tourist who got into trouble off Sardinian beach https://t.co/0yEVYclyNb
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 8, 2019
The man’s friends saw that he needed help and began shouting and waving to get the attention of lifeguards, who rushed to deploy a rescue boat.
But Magnini, who was bathing nearby, was closer and quickly reached the struggling swimmer, keeping his head above the water until lifeguards arrived, said Bencivenga.
— KBCCHANNEL.TV (@KBCCHANNELTV) July 9, 2019
Magnini, who retired from professional swimming in 2017, is an Olympic bronze medalist, and won 100 meter freestyle golds at the 2005 and 2007 world championships.
Magnini told Bencivenga that the bather had been in great difficulty—scared, swallowing seawater and unable to speak.
The swimmer said it wasn’t easy to lift the man onto the raft so he helped him onto a double airbed that other bathers had nearby.
Magnini then dragged the airbed to the shore with the help of lifeguards and the man’s friends.
Italian Olympic swimmer Filippo Magnini on Sunday reacted faster than lifeguards to rescue a drowning newly-wed https://t.co/Tgps7YqhV1
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 9, 2019
Once they reached dry land the man received medical treatment and taken to hospital, where he was later dismissed, said Bencivenga, who is the director of the Provincia de Cremona newspaper in the Lombardy region of Italy.
“I did what I felt I should do,” Magnini said. “Swim as fast as I could to save him. The important thing is the swimmer is safe.”
The 37-year-old Magnini was swimming nearby with his girlfriend, Italian model and TV personality Giorgia Palmas.
Magnini, who won the 100-meter freestyle at the 2005 and 2007 world championships and a relay bronze at the 2004 Olympics, received a four-year ban for doping in 2018 after he had retired. He never tested positive and denied any wrongdoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.