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Olympic swimmer dived 40 times to save people from a submerged bus and it changed his life forever

It took Shavarsh Karapetyan about 25 seconds to complete each plunge, but he anyway did that 40 times because he did not want anyone to die.

Olympic swimmer dived 40 times to save people from a submerged bus and it changed his life forever
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In a fictional world, superheroes stepping up and doing the impossible, from lifting tons on their fingertips to flying high to rescue people, is a common sight. The real-world scenario is much different, but some real-life stories prove that we do not lack the presence of brave souls among us. Very few know the heroic tale of Soviet swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan who, along with his brother Kamo, saved several lives from a sinking trolleybus.


Grantland states that it was 1976 and Karapetyan was rigorously training for a swimming competition. He was dropped from the national swim team even after capturing eight European swimming titles and numerous world records. To win his spot back on the team, he used to train intensely. He was in the middle of a 13-mile run with 45 pounds of sand strapped to his back when he heard the sound of metal smashing. He witnessed the blizzard of dust that had kicked up from the hillside and saw a trolley bus disappear below the surface of Lake Yerevan. In seconds, he was spotted sprinting towards the lake, dispatching the heavy load tied to his back and diving into the lake to rescue the people inside the sinking bus.


From the moment he leaped into the depths of Yerevan, there was fear among people about whether he would be able to get back to the shore with injured people. The lake had sewage-infested water and silt that led to poor visibility. Miraculously, Karapetyan used his legs to kick open the back window of the trolley bus in the water. In doing so, shards of glass shredded his leg. The cold water, however, helped stop the bleeding. With incredible determination, he managed to rescue 35-40 passengers, out of whom only 20 managed to survive.

At a spot of an accident, finding able swimmers amongst the public can be hard. On that day back in 1976, very few rescuers were present on the shore, with the load falling mostly on Karapetyan's shoulder. Yet, he did the unthinkable and saved as many as he could from the sinking bus.


However, for Karapetyan, his dive cost him his swimming career as he suffered severe health problems. Making a comeback to the pool was short-lived as he found that he wasn’t the athlete he used to be. His respiratory system had suffered irreversible damage from his time in the toxic lake and the resulting pneumonia. This somewhat marked the tragic end of his swimming career, but the lives he saved were worth it.

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