Heroics from Australian youngster Mollie O’Callaghan has helped the nation’s 4x200m women’s freestyle team to another gold medal and world record at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships on Wednesday night.

Earlier in the session, O’Callaghan appeared injured in the cool down pool following her silver performance in the women’s 100m backstroke final.

Nine’s broadcast showed O’Callaghan in some distress, clutching her left side while trying to swim down after the final.

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Immediately after seeing the footage, Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe was convinced O’Callaghan was hurt.

“She’s injured,” he said.

“It’s actually sad to see.

“This is pure emotion.

“We really don’t want to see this. And you know, the first thoughts have to go to the way that Mollie is feeling at the moment.

“The second thought is she’s already been allocated to swim in the 4x200m relay tonight. We can’t have her represented by another athlete.

“She’s thinking, ‘I’ve let people down’.”

With O’Callaghan down to swim in the 4x200m freestyle relay, it was touch and go minutes before the race with the 18-year-old not allowed to be replaced.

Aussie women obliterate relay record

In a rollercoaster of emotions, O’Callaghan swam Australia into first position during the second leg of the final event of the evening.

The Australians clocked a new world record time of 7:30.87 as Canada (7:34.47) and the USA (7:34.70) rounded out the podium places in Melbourne.

Madi Wilson opened the relay before O’Callaghan completed the second leg. Leah Neale swam third as dual world champion Lani Pallister rounded out the impressive performance.

“Mollie showing no signs of the distress we saw in those pictures from the warm down pool so far. Her stroke looks great. She’s sitting up high in the water,” Australian swimming great Gian Rooney said in commentary for Nine.

The FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) will be broadcast exclusively live and free on Nine and 9Now from December 13-18.

“She looks great around.”

After keeping tight lipped about the extent of O’Callaghan’s injury ahead of the final, Australian relay coach Dean Boxall later revealed the cause of her discomfort was a rectus abdominis cramp.

“She got this huge cramp around her six-pack,” he told Nine’s broadcast.

“So the physio had to come and try and get her [sorted] – she’d locked out big time.

Aussie quinella in backstroke final

“She couldn’t move in the water for the swim down, so she was in tears, we had to try to help get her through.

“She committed to try to get out there for Australia. She was in a lot of strife, so she’s amazing. What an amazing girl.”

Speaking post-race, O’Callaghan addressed the tense moment.

“After racing sometimes I get very cramped and I can’t really move and it all seizes up, so I had amazing support team getting me to all together, I had Dean supporting me, I had them running around, doing everything,” she said.

“I’m just very thankful for them to help me long the way and get me back up to race.

“At the end of the day, the race is not about me. It is about Australia. And the team. So I had to stand up and do it for the rest of the girls.”

O’Callaghan previously had to overcome a pre-race drama when she cramped in her leg ahead of the 100m freestyle final at the long course World Swimming Championships in June.

Rooney later described the youngster’s performance as, “an extraordinary swim knowing what we know now”.

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