Shavarsh Karapetyan, a hero in and out of the pool

Shavarsh Karapetyan
Shavarsh Karapetyan

Today I would like to tell you about a hero. Of course on the day of remembrance, perhaps you would think of a hero who saved lives from the Nazi concentration camps.
Instead our story takes place in the seventies and concerns Shavarsh Karapetyan, who saved an incredible number of lives and who also won 17 world titles in fin swimming.
On the morning of September 16, 1976, 23-year-old Shavarsh is running his 20 km daily when he sees a trolleybus ending up in the waters of Lake Yerevan.
Many of the passengers are unconscious, due to the impact or the cold water, trapped 10 meters deep, in that 25 meters long bus.
Without hesitation he dives into the water. Swim, dive. It breaks the trolleybus windows and resurfaces.
He does this thirty times before losing consciousness by being overwhelmed by the strain and cuts caused by broken glass.
There are twenty people who owe him their life. It actually saved even more but not all of them managed to survive despite medical treatment.
Shavarsh remained in a coma for 45 days and had to abandon competitions, a shame considering the numerous world and European titles he had already won at the age of 23.
For a strange twist of fate it will not be the only time he will risk his life in an attempt to save unknown people: nine years later, in February 1985, there was a fire in a hospital and, incredibly, Shavarsh was among the first to enter and extract some people from the flames.
It would be nice if, instead of writing to share articles on the 800,000 euro watch with which Nadal takes the field or on the life of Roscoe, the Hamilton bulldog, we talked about things like these.

Credits: Text by Simone Lunghi