Champion swimmer Sarah Sjostrom provided a scare at the world titles in Gwangju, requiring medical assistance immediately after the 200m freestyle final on Wednesday night.
The Swede took bronze in an event missing three of the sport's biggest stars – American great Katie Ledecky, Canada's Commonwealth Games champion Taylor Ruck and Australia's Emma McKeon.
But the race still provided a hot fight for placings as 18-year-old Aussie Ariarne Titmus held off Sjostrom to take out silver behind gold medallist Federica Pellegrini, the Italian veteran appearing at her last world titles.
The dramatic scenes in the water made way for concern among the crowd and viewers at home as Sjostrom, 25, required help to make her way to the deck.
The bronze medallist had her blood pressure checked and received oxygen while lying down next to the pool.
Thankfully Sjostrom was soon given the all clear, reappearing for the medal ceremony before telling media she was dealing with a headache.
"Feels after 200m freestyle! Right!?" she wrote on Instagram.
"FYI I'm fine now... and super happy with my bronze."
However, the episode may lead to another rethink.
Two months ago Sjostrom suggested she would skip the 200m freestyle at the world titles – for health and fitness reasons.
"I am not 15 any more so it’s a little difficult for me to do too many events," she said.
Between then and now the one-time Olympic champion backflipped on the decision, and though it paid off with a bronze medal it may force her to confront reality.
‘Pretty high standards’
Gutted Australian teenager Ariarne Titmus hopes her 200m experience will propel her to even greater heights at Gwangju.
The 18-year-old was the red-hot 200m favourite after the big-name withdrawals, especially after her shock 400m freestyle victory over five-time Olympic champion Ledecky on Sunday night.
Yet Pellegrini, who turns 31 next month, surged on the final lap to claim her fourth 200m crown and a record eighth consecutive medal in the event at a world titles on Wednesday night.
What a day so far for 🇮🇹 as World Record holder Federica Pellegrini makes it two gold medals 🥇🥇 from two for the Southern European nation as she takes out the Women’s 200m Freestyle in 1:54.22 #Swimming #FINAGwangju2019 pic.twitter.com/D5mXpHSus1
— FINA (@fina1908) July 24, 2019
While shattered, Titmus said the result would only spur her on in her remaining events – Thursday's 4x200m freestyle relay and the 800m freestyle that starts on Friday.
"It's a silver medal at a world championships, which is great, but on training times I probably thought I had a better swim in me," Titmus said.
"I have pretty high standards obviously. I would have loved the gold but I just wasn't good enough to get there.
"But she (Pellegrini) is a true champion, world record holder and for her to beat me, I'm okay."