Kazan: There was disappointment for Australia`s men at the world swimming championships as medal hopes Mack Horton, Christian Sprenger and the men`s relay team flopped in Sunday`s heats in Kazan.
The Aussie men`s team got their campaign off to a woeful start as Australia bid to improve on a fourth placed finish in the medals table in the last world championships two years ago.
Reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Sprenger, the silver medallist at the London Olympics, suffered the biggest shock by finishing 28th fastest in the heats and failed to make Sunday`s semi-finals.
He admitted he has struggled for form after a shoulder injury.
"It was slow, very slow," said a disappointed Sprenger.
His performance was put into context with world record-holder Adam Peaty and Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa going safely through nearly two seconds faster than him.
"I was ok in the warm-up, but it`s just not clicking, it`s strange," said the Australian.
Sprenger has his final chance now in Tuesday`s 50m breaststroke heats having won silver in the event two years ago in Barcelona.
Horton also cut a disappointed figure in the mixed zone as the 19-year-old missed out on a place in Sunday`s 400m freestyle final after admitting he had misjudged his heat on his world championships debut.
The Australian teenager came into Kazan having swum the world`s fastest time this year, but admitted he was found wanting on the big stage as he finished 11th in the heats and missed the final by 18 hundredths of a second.
China`s reigning world and Olympic champion Sun Yang stormed into the final with the fastest qualifying time.
"It was my first international meet and I wasn`t really sure of the pace," said Horton, who will also swim in the 800m and 1500 freestyle events.
"It took me by surprise, but there`s still a long way to go in the meet."
While Australia`s women had no problems qualifying for Sunday`s 4x100m freestyle relay final, as the second fastest through behind the USA, the men`s quartet finished 13th and failed to reach the final.
They were not alone in suffering relay disappointment as the USA team also failed to reach the final, despite winning their heat, for the first time in world championships history.