Tokyo: Jack Cartwright emerged from the pool after his 200m freestyle heat pleased with his work. At that point, his spot in the Pan Pacs final had already been decided.
It wasn't that his time of 1:46.38s wasn't good enough to make the top eight. It was; behind the exceptionally quick Andrew Seliskar (USA), Townley Haas (USA) and teammate Alexander Graham, Cartwright was next in line.
Soon after, news came through that the 19-year-old had elected to sit out the decider to focus on his pet 100m freestyle, to be swum on Friday at the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.
Those in and around the Dolphins over the past three weeks had been saying Cartwright was sizzling in his training sets. When he lowered his PB by almost a second (Graham also set a new best mark), it only confirmed the noise.
The big swims by Graham and Cartwright produced some serious collateral damage. Their much higher-profile teammates Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton, who went one-two in this event at the Commonwealth Games, missed out.
Only two from each nation can go through to the A Final and the same for the B Final. Chalmers knew the pressure was on but couldn't do enough to progress. He skipped the B Final to focus on his 100m, with Horton and medley specialist Clyde Lewis to be the Australian contingent.
The fortunes of Chalmers would provide the main talking point but the rise of Cartwright has more than enough merit. After beating at the mini-trials for this meet and off the back of a deeply impressive first hit-out, he now shapes as a serious player in the 100m free.
That race had been billed as a showdown between Chalmers and current world champion, American Caeleb Dressel, but scripts often take a tangent in the elite sprint races.
Chalmers has made a concerted focus to become one of the best 200m swimmers in the world and sees it as another chance for a medal at the next Olympic Games.
Thursday's heats would provide a solid reality check but while he was not impressed on failing to progress, he was happy enough with his swim and what it meant going forward in a relatively new event for the Adelaide star.
"You had to be in the top two Australians to be in that final. I gave it everything I had. I was half a second faster than I was at Commonwealth Games in the heat and it was the fastest I've ever been in the morning," Chalmers said.
"I'm actually really happy with that. I know my coach will be happy but in the back of my mind I'm disappointed I'm not in that A Final. To not have that opportunity does suck.
"I'm still learning. I haven't done a whole lot of it, especially internationally. I watched the first seeded heat and to see a 1:45s was... hard to see almost. That's my PB so I thought: 'Shit, I'm going to have to go a PB this morning if I'm going to be any chance of challenging those guys'.
"I've got the 100m [on Friday] so I've still got time to redeem myself."
It might be exactly the kind of result that helps Chalmers get to the next level, not the least because he now has world-class domestic competition in the event, a factor that has made the Americans such a super power in the pool.
He would also find out there can be no cruising through the heats in the dog-eat-dog, four-day Pan Pacs format, something he will be sure to remember when he lines up for the 100m.
The good news for the Australians is that their men's 4x200m relay is looking increasingly strong. Between Cartwright, Graham, Lewis, Chalmers, Horton and Elijah Winnington, the depth is impressive and should contend strongly this week and in two years' time.