For more than 25 seconds, she held her breath, and the 900 spectators at the Singapore Sports School held theirs, too.
In a lively 50m butterfly final at the Fina World Cup (short course) on Wednesday, home-favourite Tao Li touched the wall in 25.57sec to grab the silver medal, finishing 0.23s behind Swedish star Sarah Sjoestrom.
Speaking after the race, Tao Li, who won Singapore's only medal of the meet over the two-day competition, revealed he did not take her customary one breath during the race.
"This is the first time I tried not taking any breaths and it helped," she said.
"I felt stronger and the strokes were smoother.
"I'm very satisfied with the result and performance."
Tao Li bounced back in style after missing the 100m butterfly final on Tuesday by just 0.01s, after taking it too easy in her heat.
Not for the first time in her swimming career, she responded in thrilling fashion.
Hurling her 1.60-metre frame into the pool alongside bigger, taller European opponents, Tao Li's reaction time of 0.62s off the blocks was only behind Katinka Hosszu's incredibly-quick 0.37s and Sjoestrom's 0.55s.
She surfaced last, cutting through the water with powerful dolphin kicks, and took seven strokes to surge into the lead at the turn.
She was pipped at the end by Sjoestrom, but the feisty Singaporean, and her supporters, felt she had done well to pick up her fourth silver from four legs of the World Cup.
"I talked a lot on Tuesday before my 100m fly, but today I stopped talking to save energy," the 23-year-old quipped.
"I wasn't angry about the earlier race but I was more focused today.
"I was more mentally prepared and this is good preparation for the SEA (South-east Asia) Games, although obviously that is going to be a long-course competition.
"We have not decided what events I'm going to swim yet. But for sure I'm targeting as many golds as possible."
The Singapore leg of the World Cup is the fifth of seven, with Tokyo and Beijing to come.
While no other Singaporean swimmer won a medal, a few local swimmers did set new national records.
Quah Zheng Wen led the way with three new marks.
Last night, his sixth-placed timing of 1:58.22 in the 200m backstroke surpassed Zach Ong's record of 1:58.73.
Earlier, the 17-year-old smashed Danny Yeo's 200m butterfly record of 1:47.64 by clocking 1:46.08 in the morning heats.
On Tuesday, Zheng Wen also lopped more than a second off Bryan Yeo's 100m individual medley record of 56.59 with a time of 55.21.
In the men's 50m freestyle, Russell Ong broke Arren Quek's mark of 22.72 with a time of 22.68, only for Darren Lim to lower it to 22.26.
In the 1,500m freestyle final, Teo Zhen Ren finished fourth and out of the medals, but celebrated a new national record of 15:19.30, beating Pang Sheng Jun's previous best of 15:21.76.
Roanne Ho was the only local female swimmer to break a national record when she erased Samantha Yeo's 50m breaststroke record of 32.63 with a time of 32.39.
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