Graeme Thomas went from the stands to the boat in a matter of minutes before going on to win a world silver medal as a last-minute replacement in the men’s quad sculls.
The silver was one of three medals won by British crews on the penultimate day of the World Championships, in Florida.
Their female counterparts in the women’s quad won bronze, as did the men’s four, while the women’s pair, men’s pair and lightweight women’s double finished fourth, fifth and fifth, respectively.
Preston’s Thomas was the star of the show, though, with Pete Lambert tweaking his back in the warmup, the crew were forced to row back to the pontoon to pick him up.
“I was sat next to my mum in the grandstand, I thought they’d boated, I wished them the best of luck, it was all done – and then I’m getting 100 million Whatsapps saying ‘you’re needed now’ – so I legged it,” he said.
“But these boys did so well, if they hadn’t have kept their cool I wouldn’t have been able to do anything, so full credit to those boys.”
Thomas was joined by Jack Beaumont, John Collins and Jonny Walton as they finished behind Lithuania, with the latter paying tribute to their late substitute.
“We didn’t think that was going to happen this morning!” said Walton. “We just had to go against everything and row against the circulation to get back to the pontoon.
“There was a bit of a mad scramble to find someone, but luckily he was there – the man of the moment.”
Thomas had earlier in the competition come first in the B race of the double scull with crew mate Angus Groom.
The pair, who had hardly raced together before, finished ahead of both Switzerland and the USA. They had just missed out on a place in the main final after coming fourth in their semi-final..