Olympic Swimmer Filippo Magnini Saves Drowning Man Who Fell Off Unicorn Float
Italian Olympic competitor Filippo Magnini used his swimming skills for good when he saved a man from nearly drowning on Sunday.
Newlywed Andrea Benedetto was enjoying the water on top of an inflatable unicorn float at Cala Sinzias beach in Italy when he fell off and began drowning in the water, leading his friends to shout back to the beach for help, the BBC reported.
Magnini, 35, quickly responded to the crisis, jumping into the water and retrieving Benedetto by keeping his head above water until lifeguards arrived.
Benedetto, 45, was on his honeymoon when he nearly lost his life. He married his boyfriend two days earlier in a ceremony in Cagliari, which is just west of the Cala Sinzias beach, according to the BBC.
“I just did what I had to,” Magnini, who retired in 2017, said after the incident.
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As a friend of the newlyweds that witnessed the incident recounted to the BBC, the couple were on an unicorn float when Benedetto fell into the water, but was unable to move due to a medical condition.
Wind began to push the inflatable away, the friend recalled, and Benedetto’s husband was struggling to keep his partner’s head above the water from drowning.
“The bather was in a lot of trouble: he was quite frightened, he was really stuck and had swallowed some seawater,” Magnini said, before adding, “when I reached him he wasn’t even able to speak, and it wasn’t easy to lift him on to the raft, so we laid him on an airbed that some other bathers had nearby.”
Benedetto was taken to the hospital to be treated. But after becoming conscious and in good health, what shocked Benedetto most was the identity of the man who saved his life.
“A few hours after the accident I was at the hospital when I realised that Filippo Magnini was the man who saved my life but I didn’t have any chance to thank him as I have no contact with him,” Benedetto told the BBC. “I hope to be able to thank him in person.”
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The outlet also reported that Magnini was on the beach with his girlfriend, Giorgia Palmas, a famous Italian TV celebrity and model.
Magnini is a two-time 100m freestyle world champion. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, he won the bronze medal, and followed that up at the 2006 European Aquatics Championships when he won the gold medal in the 100m and in the 4×200m freestyle races.
In 2017, Magnini made the surprising announcement to retire at the age of 35, following an investigation for his connection to a nutritionist involved in a Pesaro criminal probe.
“I want to apologize to everyone, to my parents, to my coach and to the Federation who knew nothing,” Magnini said in a press conference at the time, according to Swim Swam. “I think certain choices you have to take yourself. It is a couple of days that I think about it, beyond the Europeans that it would be perhaps a nice conclusion of career.”
Added the Olympic swimmer, “I hope I have given something to this sport and have written part of the story.”