SHANGHAI - Martha McCabe arrived at the world swimming championships unsure if she had what it took to claim a medal.
Entering the final stretch of Friday's 200-metre breaststroke, the Toronto native still didn't know exactly where she stood. It wasn't until McCabe touched the wall that she learned what she is capable of.
"I kind of just kept my head down and finished strong and was ecstatic to see I was third place," said McCabe. "Before I even looked at my time, I just turned and saw the Canadian flag and 'McCabe' and I went nuts."
The 21-year-old claimed bronze in a time of two minutes 24.81 seconds.
American Rebecca Soni, who led from start to finish, won gold in 2:21.47, while Yuliya Efimova of Russia took the silver in 2:22.22.
It was the third swimming medal of the meet for Canada — matching the total the team claimed two years ago in Rome.
McCabe finished seventh in the 200-metre breaststroke at the 2009 worlds and was hoping to move inside the top-five this time around. Mission accomplished.
"I'm ecstatic right now," said McCabe. "It's pretty important (one year away from the London Olympics) but I know that next year's going to be a lot faster. It doesn't mean that I can relax or step back at all.
"I know I have a lot of work to do still going into the Olympics."
Vancouver's Annamay Pierse, the silver medallist two years ago, finished eighth on Friday. The two Canadians push each other during workouts together in the pool.
"I'm training with Annamay Pierse, I know how fast world competitions are going to be," said McCabe. "It always keeps me on my toes."
In other Canadian action Friday:
— Sinead Russell of Oakville, Ont., set a Canadian record in the women's 200 backstroke semifinal with a time of 2:08.80, finishing ninth. However she failed to qualify for the final.
— Genevieve Cantin of Quebec City was 16th in the women's 200 backstroke.