Kazan: Ryan Lochte of the United States was back to his best when he started the defence of his men`s 200 metres individual medley title in commanding fashion on day four of the world championships on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old atoned for the disappointment of missing out on a medal in the men`s 200m freestyle the previous evening by comfortably securing a semi-final berth in first place, gliding smoothly to the wall in one minute 57.90 seconds.
"It wasn`t my day last night," the three-time world champion in the shorter medley told reporters. "I did everything I could and it just didn`t work out. But what I do best, no matter what, is forget about what happened and move on.
"It was one of the most comfortable 1:57`s I have done, so I am excited to see what I can do. It should be a good race."
Behind Lochte, Briton Dan Wallace qualified second, 0.38 seconds adrift, while Conor Dwyer of the United States posted 1:58.63 to finish third fastest.
In the men`s 100m freestyle, Olympic champion Nathan Adrian of the United States laboured to sixth place in qualification ahead of the semi-finals later on Wednesday.
With Australia`s reigning world champion James Magnussen absent through a shoulder injury, it was left to Zetao Ning of China to set the fastest time, his 48.11 seconds edging Cameron McEvoy by 0.22.
"Overall it was a little bit slower than what we all expected it to be," said Adrian, who posted 48.61 seconds.
"I think the race will progress a lot faster than what a lot of people think. I`ll be impressed to see if anyone can reach the (world record) time this year."
Meanwhile, China`s Yuanhui Fu topped qualification in the women`s 50m backstroke by clocking 27.66 seconds.
After her exertions in taking gold in the 100m backstroke on Tuesday, Australia`s Emily Seebohm advanced through to the semi-finals in third place, 0.09 seconds off the pace.
China`s Zhang Yufei produced an eye-catching swim in the women`s 200m butterfly as she broke the world junior record.
Zhang clocked an impressive 2:06.92 as the 17-year-old overtook Katie McLaughlin`s 2014 mark. American McLaughlin qualified second fastest, 0.40 seconds behind, with Katinka Hosszu, the 2013 world bronze medallist, qualifying sixth.
"I feel good and I had a good rest last night but my focus is on the 200m freestyle final tonight," said Hungary`s Hosszu, who claimed the gold medal in the women`s 200m individual medley with a new world record on Monday.
The Wednesday evening session will also include finals in the men`s 50m breaststroke, 200m butterfly and 800m freestyle.