Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) - American swimming superstar Missy Franklin says she was terrified when her back seized up in training but she believes the worst is behind her at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia.
The quadruple London Olympic gold medallist and nine-times world champion has struggled with back problems this week and missed out on qualifying for the 200m freestyle final in Thursday's heats at the Gold Coast.
Franklin was relegated to third place behind Australian Emily Seebohm, whom she beat for Olympic gold in the 100m backstroke in London in 2012.
But the 19-year-old revealed the extent of the back spasms which flared at training on Tuesday ahead of the Pan Pacs meet.
"Back spasms are certainly a first time for me. I was a little taken aback by it," she said.
"My back was feeling a little bit tight and then it got much worse.
"It was pretty intense and the pain comes on pretty quickly and unexpectedly and I couldn't move. I couldn't put pressure on my back at all, and even more than the pain I was just terrified.
"I was so scared. I never had anything like this happened to me before and two days before the meet starts it's something you definitely don't want to experience."
Franklin, who has been having intensive treatment including acupuncture and ice massages, said she was confident the back complaint will pass and will not dog her in the future.
"Now that I am aware of it, now that I know if my lower back gets a little tight then it's something that we can prevent and make sure it's never gets this bad again," she said.
"I'm just going to take it day by day, event by event, and see what happens. I'm definitely feeling like I'm ready to go tomorrow in the 100m freestyle.
"Today was probably my toughest day. Hopefully it gets a little easier from here."