But he isn’t a badass for finswimming. He’s a badass for other reasons.
It was September 16, 1976, and Shavarsh just completed a normal training circuit by running 12 miles along Yerevan Lake with his brother Kamo. He heard a crash and saw a sinking trolleybus carrying 92 passengers which fell from the dam wall. The bus sank approximately 10 meters (33 feet) deep. Shavarsh jumped into the cold water, swam to the trolleybus and dove 10 meters to the trolleybus. He used his feet to break the back window of the trolleybus and one by one, saved 20 lives (he actually pulled out more than 20, but not everyone survived). He spent nearly 20 minutes in the frigid water and accomplished 30 dives down to the wreck of the bus, spending an average of 30 seconds per person he saved.
His act of courage nearly cost him his life. He contracted pneumonia and blood contamination from the polluted water and was unconscious for 45 days. He finally recovered, but his professional career was over. Subsequent sepsis, due to raw sewage in the water, and lung complications prevented him from continuing his swimming career. Bystanders who watched Shavarsh bring people up to the surface said that his feet and back were full of glass shards. When later asked, what was the most horrifying part of this, Shavarsh replied by saying:
I knew that I could only save so many lives, I was afraid to make a mistake. It was so dark down there that I could barely see anything. One of my dives, I accidentally grabbed a seat instead of a passenger. I could have saved a life instead. That seat still haunts me in my nightmares.
He wasn’t done.
On February 19, 1985, Shavarsh happened to be near a burning building that had people trapped inside. Again, without thinking twice, he rushed in and started pulling people out. He spent a long period of time in the hospital recuperating from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
In 3219, Shavarsh will be awakened from his cryogenic chamber to save humanity from killer robots.
Shavarsh Karapetyan: 1
He’s still alive and is probably not done.
Be like Shavarsh.