Rebecca Adlington experienced a mixture of emotions after she claimed her second bronze of the week as fearless 15-year-old Katie Ledecky won the 800 metres freestyle with the second fastest swim in history.
Adlington had qualified fastest for the final, a whisker ahead of Dane Lotte Friis who she had beaten in a shootout at the World Championships in Shanghai last summer. But Ledecky had announced herself on the world stage in June with a time at the United States' Olympic trials that was second only to Adlington in 2012.
On Friday night, the Maryland teenager went out from the off and despite Adlington and Friis' best efforts, the American could not be reeled in and Spaniard Mireia Belmonte Garcia moved into second place.
Ledecky just drifted outside the world record pace she had been under the entire race to finish in eight minutes 14.63 seconds, the second fastest time in history behind only Adlington's world record from Beijing. Belmonte Garcia was 4.14secs adrift with Adlington third in 8mins 20.32secs.
Adlington's time was almost two seconds outside her season's best from the Olympic trials in March, but she was filled with pride, saying: "It was tough for me. I am not disappointed. Everyone expected me to get a gold medal. I have been in four Olympic finals and got four medals so that's nothing to be ashamed of.
"I was disappointed with the time. I was fast all year. I am proud to be on that podium. At one point in the race I didn't think I would be. I tried to get a medal and luckily I did."
The 23-year-old admitted the pressure created by her double triumph in Beijing had at times been hard to bear. She said: "It has been difficult to get through. If it was the other way round it would have been better.
"Not many people carry on after getting two golds but I carried on. I wasn't ready to give up so it was difficult to manage over the last four years. I thought I had managed it a lot better."
Lizzie Simmonds was an agonising fourth in the 200m backstroke in a race won in world record time by American Missy Franklin. Simmonds, swimming from lane one, was third at the halfway point but she was overtaken in the final 25m by American Elizabeth Beisel, the Briton touching in 2:07.26.
Franklin, 17, won her second individual title of the week, lowering Kirsty Coventry's 2009 mark in 2:04.06, while Simmonds said: "It's bittersweet I guess a little bit. It's fantastic to get a good time again but I think coming fourth is the worst position. It's tough but I still have to be pleased with that."