19 May 1953|
Kirovakan, Soviet Armenia
Shavarsh Karapetyan (Armenian: Շավարշ Կարապետյան; born 19 May, 1953) is a retired Soviet Armenian finswimmer, 11-time World Record holder, 17-time World Champion, 13-time European Champion and 7-time USSR Champion; additionally, he saved 20 lives when a trolleybus fell into the Yerevan reservoir.
Karapetyan, Honored Master of Sports of the USSR, ten-time finswimming World Record-breaker, is better known in the former USSR for one particular day of his life, September 16, 1976. On that day, training with his brother Kamo, also a finswimmer, by running alongside the Yerevan Lake, Karapetyan had just completed his usual distance of 20 km (12 mi) when he heard the sound of the crash and saw the sinking trolleybus which had gone out of control and fallen from the dam wall.
The trolleybus lay at the bottom of the reservoir some 25 metres (80 ft) offshore at a depth of 10 metres (33 ft). Karapetyan swam to it and, despite conditions of almost zero visibility, due to the silt rising from the bottom, broke the back window with his legs. The trolleybus was crowded, it carried 92 passengers and Karapetyan knew he had little time, spending some 30 to 35 seconds for each person he saved.
Karapetyan managed to rescue 20 people (he picked up more, but 20 of them survived), but this ended his sports career: the combined effect of cold water and the multiple wounds he received (scratched by glass), left him unconscious for 45 days. Subsequent sepsis, due to the presence of raw sewage in the lake water, and lung complications prevented him from continuing his sports career. Today's experts agree that no one but Shavarsh could have done what he had done.
Karapetyan's achievement was not immediately recognized. All related photos were kept at the district attorney’s office and were only published two years later. He was awarded a medal "For The Rescue of the Drowning" and the Order of the Badge of Honor. His name became a household name in the USSR on October 12, 1982, when Komsomolskaya Pravda published an article on his feat, entitled "The Underwater Battle of the Champion". This publication revealed that he was the rescuer; and he received about 60,000 letters.
On February 19, 1985, Shavarsh just happened to be near a burning building, that had people trapped inside. He rushed in and started pulling people out without a second thought. Once again, he was badly hurt (severe burns) and spent a long time in the hospital.
Karapetyan took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay for the second stage of the race. He was passed the torch in Moscow and carried it towards Krasnogorsk. The next day, Karapetyan carried the torch for a second time. He also stated in an interview, "I was carrying the torch for Russia and for Armenia."
- The Remarkable Acts of Heroism of Shavarsh Karapetyan
- Chase's Calendar of Events, 2011 Edition: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Special Days, Weeks, and Months, Editors of Chase's Calendar of Events. McGraw-Hill. 2010
- Soviet Champion Saves 20 Lives, 1976. Yahoo Voices. Retrieved 19 July 2013
- International Fair Play Committee: FAIR PLAY AWARD WINNERS — Shafarsh V.KARAPETIAN
- Schmadel, Lutz D. Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. — Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. — B., Heidelberg, N. Y.: Springer, 2003. — P. 249. — ISBN 3-540-00238-3
- "Շավարշ Կարապետյան. «Հայկական ֆուտբոլը» նոր տերմին է" (in Armenian). NEWS.am Sport. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- "Олимпийский огонь потух во время пробега по Кремлю" (in Russian). Forbes. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- "Շավարշ Կարապետյանը երկրորդ անգամ մասնակցել է Սոչիի Օլիմպիական խաղերի փոխանցումավազքին" (in Armenian). NEWS.am Sport. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Leibovsky, Vadim (1988). Shavarsh's Twenty Lives (in Russian). Moscow: Fizkultura i sport.
- "Shavarsh The Saviour" (in Russian). Trud. 2006-09-12. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- "The Remarkable Acts of Heroism of Shavarsh Karapetyan". ILTWMT. 2012-03-12.