ROME Serbia's Nadja Higl touched home first to claim victory in an exciting climax to the women's 200 meters breaststroke final at the world championships on Friday.
Higl swam two minutes, 21.62 seconds to win the gold medal just in front of Canada's Annamay Pierse, who had set a new world record of 2:20.12 in the semis.
Austria's Mirna Jukic took the bronze medal.
"I'm very excited. I didn't expect this," Higl told reporters. "I did a good race. I'm still surprised."
American Olympic champion Rebecca Soni set off strongly and looked on course to claim a golden double with a world record time after she won the 100m breaststroke title on Tuesday.
But she faded in the final 50m, was caught by the chasing pack led by Higl just before the line and had to settle for fourth place.