A presença de salva-vidas nos centros aquáticos das Olimpiadas de Verão do Rio de Janeiro 2016 gerou um burburinho de gracejos. A edição britânica do Metro, por exemplo, não conseguiu identificar a serventia disso.
Mas é bom lembrar que, embora a presença dos salva-vidas nesta edição deva-se à legislação fluminense e o regulamento da Fina não exija, não é exclusividade do Rio2016. Em Atenas 2004, Pequim 2008 e em Londres 2012, eles estavam presentes.
Analisando o papel dos salva-vidas em Atenas 2004, Avramidis 2008, explica sua importância perto de corpos d'água e piscinas em geral e também em competições de alto nível.
Avramidfis, S. 2008. Lifeguard Operations: Summary of Practices at the Athens 2004 Olympics. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. 1, 47-55
"In open-water venues, the need for lifeguards is well appreciated around the world. Unfortunately, there are still people in countries with a less well-developed sense of safety who believe that swimming pools do not present risks and therefore that the lifeguards are unnecessary (Avramidis, 2003). For those believing that a swimming pool is merely a harmless 'small sea' and therefore a safe place without the potential for injury or death, the answer to the question 'Do we need lifeguards during the Olympic Games?' is often a resounding No!
As one means of refuting that attitude, one need only consider a remarkable incident that occurred on the ninth of Greg Louganis’s 11 preliminary dives in the 3-m springboard competition during the Olympic Games of Seoul on September 19, 1988. Louganis lacerated his head on the diving board and hit the water with a great splash after attempting a reverse 2.5-somersault pike. Fortunately, the accident led only to a cut that required temporary sutures and five stitches. Recall, however, that several years later the incident took on added meaning when the world’s best diver revealed that he had been HIV-positive during those Olympic Games. In his autobiography, he admitted that he was panicked that he might cause someone else harm. He had wanted to warn the doctor who treated his head injury without wearing gloves, but he did not. Fortunately, the physician tested negative for HIV in 1994. Everything was so mixed up at that point: the HIV, the shock and embarrassment of hitting his head, and an awful feeling that it was all over (Brown, 2007). From this single emergency incident that could have led to compression, concussion, spinal injury, bleeding, or an HIV infection, one should appreciate that even during Olympic Games, aquatic emergencies can and do occur."
O risco não é apenas teórico. Há vários outros casos em que os atletas de diferentes disciplinas tiveram que ser socorridos. P.e.
2008 "Japonesa passa mal e é resgatada na piscina do Cubo D'Água"
2015 "Nadadora da Zâmbia passa mal e sai carregada da piscina no Mundial de Kazan"
2016 "Nadadora passa mal e é retirada de maca durante o Troféu Maria Lenk"