Shavarsh Karapetyan is a well-known name all throughout Armenia. As a competitive swimmer, Karapetyan has been known for being the fastest competitive swimmer in all of Armenia. However, Karapetyan’s most memorable moment in his life actually has nothing to do with his competitive swimming. In fact, he has been dubbed a hero by many of the locals when he decided to do something extraordinary in the face of danger. However, this one decision may have cost him his career…
20. International Hero
Back in 1976, Shavarsh Karapetyan was one of the most successful competitive swimmers ever seen in Armenia. He was dubbed an international hero for his amazing talent and with that he could have easily glided through life. However, when a disaster began to unfold before his very eyes, Karapetyan knew he had to help…
Shavarsh was born in Armenia back in 1953 when it was still a part of the former Soviet Union. While growing up, Shavarsh’s family friend suggested that Shavarsh’s parents sign him up for swimming. It seems that this one suggestion would forever change his life.
18. A Rising Star
As Shavarsh began to train, the Soviet national team began to take notice of his skills. They immediately set off to train him for competition and they were blown away by how naturally gifted he was. Over time, he managed to break eleven world records and win the world championship seventeen times.
Shavarsh was especially skilled in finswimming. Finswimming athletes are trained to swim entirely underwater while wearing a giant flipper on both and receiving oxygen through a snorkel. It is not an easy technique, however, Shavarsh was able to master it!
16. Humiliating End
For the next few years, Shavarsh was a star and everyone knew his name. However, by the mid-1970s, his fame began to falter as his name was left off national roster in 1976. At first, Shavarsh thought that this might be the end of his career, however, he had no idea that this was actually the start of a new beginning.
15. Witnessing Something Strange
Upset with the way things were going, Shavarsh decided to head over to the Armenian capital of Yerevan. He decided that he would begin his training there. One morning, as he was completing his 12-mile run around the lake, he noticed something unbelievable.
Shavarsh stood and watched as a trolleybus carrying a full load of passengers began to veer off the road and crash into the icy lake. There were many bystanders all around calling out for help, however, Shavarsh knew that he couldn’t stand idly by. He knew that he would have to try and save the drowning passengers…
13. Sinking Down
The bus immediately began to sink down into the icy lake as it crashed down. Shavarsh noticed that there were some young boys standing near the lake and he immediately warned them not go in. Despite being absolutely exhausted, Shavarsh decided to jump into the icy cold waters.
12. Difficult To See
The water was incredibly dirty and at first it was hard for Shavarsh to see anything as he swam around. However, he used his instincts and soon enough found the bus. He managed to break open one of the windows and pulled out an unconscious passenger to safety.
11. Back & Forth
When the authorities finally arrived to the scene, they were shocked by what they saw. It seems that Shavarsh continued to go in and out of the water with another passenger that he managed to rescue. Despite having cut his leg on some glass, Shavarsh continued his rescue mission.
10. 20 People
Shavarsh was able to singlehandedly save the lives of 20 people that had been on the trolleybus. He had pulled out some others, but unfortunately they had not survived the crash. He only stopped his rescue mission when he began to run out of oxygen.
9. Keeping Quiet
After the rescue, the Soviet Union kept pretty quiet about Shavarsh’s actions. However, that didn’t seem to bother him one bit. All Shavarsh wanted was to get better so that he could begin competing again. However, as he laid in the hospital the doctors noticed that he wasn’t getting any better.
8. Permanent Damage
It seems that Shavarsh’s rescue mission had left him with some permanent damage. The blood loss and subzero temperatures caused him to have nervous fatigue, and the contaminated water gave him sepsis in his lungs. The doctors told him that he would most likely never be able to compete again.
7. Stepping Away
Finally, when he did get better, Shavarsh took part in a few swimming events here and there. However, for the most part, he stepped away from competing and settled into ordinary life. Still, he never regretted his actions from that day.
6. Breaking The Story
Although the Soviet media attempted to keep the story quiet for a very long time, eventually the news got out about what a hero Shavarsh was. Once the newspapers began to write about him he was rewarded greatly. He received dozens of medals and became a household name through Armenia.
5. Tons of Fans
In fact, Shavarsh became so popular that he soon began to receive tons of fan mail. People began to send him letters thanking him for his courageous actions. One astronomer even told him that he had recently discovered a new asteroid and was going to call it Shavarsh.
4. Humble Man
Still, despite all of the fan mail and glory, Shavarsh remained an incredibly humble man. “A man can find himself somewhere people need his help. I am not an exception,” he stated. The trolleybus rescue also wasn’t the last time he found himself rescuing other peoples lives.
3. Burning House
Later on in his life, Shavarsh came across another situation where his heroism would prove to be helpful. As he was walking, he passed by a burning home with people trapped inside. He quickly sprinted in and saved the lives of many of the residents before the building collapsed!
2. Still A Popular Figure
To this day, Shavarsh still remains quite a popular figure. In fact, in 2014, he had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch for two legs leading up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He was honored to be able to carry it.
1. Humble Life
In the present day, Shavarsh lives in Moscow with his family where he runs a shoe manufacturing business called Second Breath. He is still incredibly humble and prefers to never brag about all of the lives he’s saved. However, his vast collection of awards speak for themselves.