(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Magnini, an Olympic swimmer for Italy and former world champion in the 100m freestyle, was at Sardinia’s Cala Sinzias beach last Sunday when Benedetto fell into the water from an inflatable unicorn, leaving his husband of two days struggling to keep the man’s head above water.
Closer to Benedetto than responding lifeguards, Magnini heard the cries for help and dove in. He held Benedetto’s head above water, then laid him on a nearby airbed. “I just did what I had to,” the 37-year-old tells Italy’s Corriere Dello Sport. Benedetto, unable to move his limbs in the cold water because of a medical condition, “had swallowed some seawater” and “wasn’t even able to speak,” the swimmer adds 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.” later the lifeguards arrived and Mr. Benedetto was taken to the hospital.
“A few hours after the accident I was at the hospital when I realized 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. I hope to be able to thank him in person.”
Magnini was in Italy’s 4x200m freestyle relay team which won bronze in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
He was also world champion in the 100m freestyle in 2005 and retained that title in 2007 when he tied with Canadian Brent Hayden for gold.