Cape Town - South Africa's swimmers struggled in the heats on Day 1 of the 14th FINA World Short-course Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China on Tuesday.
Butterfly superstar Chad le Clos was first to take to the water in the men's 200m heats.
Swimming out of Lane 4 in Heat 3, Le Clos touched the wall first in a time of 1:51.90 which put him seventh overall, some 2:02 behind the fastest time (1:49.88) which was posted by Japan's Daiya Seto for the 8-man field set to contest this afternoon's final (13:41 SA time).
Le Clos is the world record holder in the event with the 1:48.56 he set in Singapore a little over five years ago.
Next in the pool for South Africa was 16-year-old Rebecca Meder in the women's 400m individual medley.
When all was said and done, Meder's time of 4:39.31 was the 18th-fastest out of the 30-strong field.
Hungarian queen of the pool, Katinka Hosszu, comfortably led the way with 4:23.59 - a staggering 4.15 ahead of her nearest challenger.
Van der Burgh, swimming out of Lane 2 in Heat 7, was only fourth quickest in his heat in a time of 57.39 and will have to improve considerably in this afternoon's semi-finals (14:04 SA time) if he wishes to contest Wednesday's final.
Ilya Shymanovich from Belarus posted the fastest time of 56.47.
Van der Burgh's world record, which he posted in Berlin a full nine years ago, stands at 55.61.
Ayrton Sweeney was the fourth and final member of the nine-strong SA squad in China in action in the first session of the championships.
Swimming in the men's 200m individual medley, Sweeney had to settle for a disappointing 27th place in the 43-man field with a time of 1:58.76.
Sweeney's time was a full 5.58 behind the quickest time posted by home favourite Shun Wang (1:53.18).
Disappointingly, South Africa elected not to contest either of the men's or women's 4x100m freestyle relay heats in which only 13 and 11 nations, respectively, did so.
A top 8 finish in either of the limited fields would've been good enough to secure a spot in the final.
South African team in Hangzhou:
Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh, Brad Tandy, Ryan Coetzee, Ayrton Sweeney, Douglas Erasmus
Erin Gallagher, Emily Visagie, Rebecca Meder