Italian Olympic swimmer Filippo Magnini has been hailed a hero after saving a man from drowning off the coast of Sardinia.
An Italian Olympic swimmer has been hailed a hero after beating lifeguards to save a man drowning in the sea off the coast of Sardinia.
Filippo Magnini had reportedly been near the Cala Sinzias beach with his girlfriend when he heard calls for help.
Realising the calls had come from off the beach, the two-time world champion launched himself into the sea to intercept the person in trouble.
BBC journalist Soroush Pakzad witnessed the incident first-hand and recalled how two men had been relaxing on an inflatable unicorn in the sea until one fell off and was unable to move due to a medical condition.
A strong wind then blew the inflatable away.
Hearing the screams for help, lifeguards also jumped into action but were beaten by the Olympian, who kept the man afloat until they could catch up, reported the BBC.
In an interview with Corriere Dello Sport, Magnini played down his efforts, saying: "I only did what I had to do."
He added: "The bather was in great difficulty: at a certain point he was frightened."
"When I reached him, he couldn't even speak, and it wasn't easy to load him onto the dinghy, so we laid him on an airbed provided by nearby bathers."
The man, who was a newly-wed tourist, was taken to hospital for treatment.
Speaking later to the BBC, he said: "When I became conscious my first thought was about my husband."
"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. I hope to be able to thank him in person."
Magnini has two World Championship titles in 2005 and 2007, and was a member of the bronze medal-winning relay team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.