This Olympic Swimmer Lost His Ability To Swim Forever While Saving People From A Drowning Bus!

This Olympic Swimmer Lost His Ability To Swim Forever While Saving People From A Drowning Bus!

Imagine being at the peak of your career as an Olympic swimmer with records and titles under your belt, only to have it all change in a blink. Shavarsh Karapetyan is an Armenian Olympic swimmer, whose life took a dramatic turn on September 16th, 1976. He selflessly saved over 20 people who were on a trolley bus that crashed and sank to the bottom of a lake over 30 feet deep.

This heroic deed did so much damage to his health and Shavarsh ended up losing his career as a swimmer. But this is not the only time his bravery came through. He has risked his life not once, but multiple times. Now at 70, Karapetyan is still living as a worldwide hero. Let’s dive into the story of Shavarsh and all his heroic acts.

Saving Passengers On A Sinking Bus

On September 16th, 1976 Shavarsh was on his regular run along the dam in Yerevan (Armenia). A large trolleybus with 92 passengers lost its control and went off the road into the cold lake. Most of its passengers fell unconscious following the crash. The bus sank approximately 30 feet deep into the dark, cold water.

Without a second thought, Sharvash jumped into the water to help the people in need. He broke the rear window and started saving people, one by one. For over 20 minutes and taking more than 30 dives down to the bottom of the lake, Sharvash kept bringing more people up. His brother – Kamo Karapetyan, who was also a swimmer, helped the injured as Shavarsh took them out of the water. He brought more than 20 to the shore for safety. But only 20 were able to survive.

On Sharvash’s 30th dive, he was left unconscious. He sustained damage and was unconscious for 45 days. He suffered from pneumonia, sepsis, severe lung damage, and other injuries. This took a toll on his physical activity and tragically ended his career.

Image source: All that’s interesting

Saving People From A Bus That Drove Off a Cliff

Even before this incredible act, Karapetyan displayed his courage. A couple of years earlier, he saved 30 lives from a bus teetering on the edge of a cliff.

In 1974, Shavarsh rode the bus in the morning to the swimming pool. Somehow, the driver failed to control the bus on the mountainous route and was about to go off a cliff. Shavarsh hopped into the driver’s seat and steered the bus away from the disaster which was about half a meter ahead. Even on that day, Shavarsh ended up rescuing 30 people.

shavarsh karapetyan
Image source: Reddit / All that’s interesting / Grantland

Saving People From a Burning Building | Life at Risk Again!

Karapetyan’s bravery didn’t stop at one or even two rescues. On February 19, 1985, he was near a burning building (the famous Soviet Armenian sports hall) with many people trapped. He once again ran inside and pulled people out. Once again, this hero got hurt badly and had inhaled toxic fumes. Sharvash again lost consciousness and everyone thought he lost his life this time. However, a local cab driver stepped in and recognized a weak pulse. He quickly carried him to a hospital. Sharvash had a long stay at the hospital trying to recover from severe burns and smoke inhalation.

shavarsh karapetyan
Image source: Medium

A Legacy of Bravery Beyond the Water

Karapetyan’s life before these heroic acts was marked by dedication and ambition. Born in Kirovakan, Armenia, he moved to Yerevan and eventually took up finswimming. Sharvash had an unparalleled success in his career. His bravery has been recognized with numerous awards, including medals from the USSR and the UNESCO “Fair Play” award.

Where is Sharvash Karapetyan Now?

Today, Karapetyan lives a quieter and simpler life running a shoe company in Russia. His story, including the unique experience of carrying the Olympic torch twice during the 2014 Winter Olympics due to a mishap, continues to inspire. An asteroid named after him, 3027 Shavarsh, symbolizes his lasting impact.

shavarsh karapetyan
Image source: Mediamax


Shavarsh Karapetyan’s life is a testament to the power of the human spirit, bravery, and willingness to risk everything for the sake of others. His story teaches us about selflessness and the remarkable difference one person can make. A fin swimmer by profession but a hero by choice, Karapetyan’s legacy is a beacon of hope and courage that transcends the world of sports.

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