The Olympic butterfly champion, who is featuring in five individual events at the Kings Park Swimming Pool this week, won his heat in a time of 1:52.63, but his time was bettered in the final heat by Myles Brown (1:51.15) and Calvyn Justus (1:51.31).
Brown has already shown impressive form at the meet, breaking a 16-year-old national record on Monday night on his way to the 400m freestyle title – in the process also becoming the first swimmer to post a Qualification Time Standard (QTS) for the Fina World Long Course Championships in Kazan later this year.
All participants at the April 13 to18 meet must record stringent times set out by Swimming SA if they hope to be part of the team travelling to Russia later in the year.
Elsewhere, US teenage sensation Michael Andrew delivered a strong performance in the 100m backstroke with a fastest time of 56.11 seconds.
The dual national, who has broken all sorts of junior records on the American circuit, is eligible to compete at the championships due his parents being South African. It is still unclear who Michael will represent in the future.
Among the women, KwaZulu-Natal’s Tara Nicholas produced an impressive swim to top the 100m breaststroke qualifiers, touching the wall in a time of 1:09.50.
Karin Prinsloo of the Northern Tigers was the fastest of the 100m backstroke swimmers after clocking a time of 1:03.49.
Finally, KZN’s Tracy-Lea Meyer was the quickest qualifier in the 1500m after a time of 17:10.09.
The Championships continue today.