Rome - After all the excitement on the previous day, Thursday turned out to be a day of peace and tranquillity for the South African team in the pool at the Fina 13th World Championships, which is being held in Rome.

First up was Lyndon Ferns to tackle the big guns in the 100m freestyle.

Ferns could only manage a seventh place in a time of 47.94, the same time that earned him a new continental mark on the first day of the championships in the first leg of the 4x100 freestyle. He could not improve on his new South African and African record of 47.79, which he set in the heats of the event.

It was the Brazilian Filho Cesar who surprised the fast Frenchman Alain Bernard to win in a new world record time of 46.91, followed by Bernard in 47.12.

"I am disappointed, but I did improve on my best times. I think the first day it went wrong for me as I went out far to fast in the 4x100 freestyle. I had too much lactose and it took me a while to recover."

Ferns said he scratched from the 50 freestyle and will now only concentrate on the 100 butterfly.

"In hindsight I should not have scratched as I am swimming a fast 50 at the moment, but did not want to make the same mistake as I did at the Olympics where I swam too much," said Ferns.

George du Rand improved his South African and African record with almost three seconds as he qualified for the final of the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:55.75 seventh fastest of the semi-final in a new African mark.

He improved his continental mark in the heats in the morning clocking 1:56.06 to smash his previous record of 1:58.61. The 18 year old Darren Murray finished 25th in the heats of the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:59.84.

Neil Versfeld failed to qualify for the final of the 200 breaststroke swimming a time of 2:09.61 which placed him in the thirteenth place overall.

In qualifying for the semi-finals, Versfeld improved his previous African and South African mark of 2:10.06 to 2:09.86 dropping his record even further in the evening. William Diering failed to advance to the semi-finals, ending with the 29th fastest time in the heats in 2:12.84, well under his best.

Jessica Pengelly finished 23rd in the 200 breaststroke in 2:28.13 and Kathryn Meaklim finished 42nd in 2:33.10. - Sapa