Cameron hopes to leave mark

Cameron van der Burgh (Gallo)
Cameron van der Burgh (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Cameron van der Burgh hopes to leave a mark in breaststroke swimming that will be the target of athletes for years to come.

Speaking on the sidelines at a SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee gala dinner honouring forgotten, apartheid-era sports heroes, Van der Burgh said times in his 100m specialist event were getting faster and he had to be prepared for the challenge.

"This year, I am getting excited again to get going and get some good times on the board," Van der Burgh said in Johannesburg on Monday.

"Breaststroke is really improving and, after London where we made a great leap by going mid-58, now going 58 seconds is the old 59 seconds so you have to go for a 57."

Van der Burgh won the men's 100m breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympic Games in a blistering world-record time of 58.46 seconds.

He has achieved almost everything possible in 50m and 100m breaststroke, with world records in both the short as well as the long course pools behind his name.

Following the 2012 London Olympic Games, Van der Burgh enjoyed a six-month break from the pool before he won the silver medal in the same event at the 2013 Fina World Championships in Barcelona.

He finished second behind Australian Christian Sprenger at the world championships where both swimmers dipped below 59 seconds - something they have both achieved again this year.

Van der Burgh missed another dual with the Australian at the BHP Billiton Aquatics Series at the beginning of the year as it did not fit in with his training programme.

"That time of the year does not fit into my plan to go racing because we do a lot of hard base training at that point in time," he said.

"I've been busy with training and the plans have been working out, especially with not going to Australia. My times have never been faster so it is looking good.

"I've had coach Dirk Lange here at nationals and we've had two weeks of hard work. Now I am off to Austria for seven weeks to train, so I will get out of the South African cold and it is always good to be with Dirk."

The swimmer is working towards the Glasgow Commonwealth Games later this year where he will be defending the 50m and 100m breaststroke titles he won at the Delhi edition in 2010.

As other swimmers were regularly dipping below 59 seconds in the 100m breaststroke, Van der Burgh believed the pressure was on for him to stay ahead of the pack.

He said he had to shift the goal posts to remain relevant and leave a lasting legacy.

"I've had the world records and stuff. I am more looking towards pushing the boundaries so far that when you retire guys aren't swimming even close.

"If you look at Michael Phelps - where the world record 100m butterfly is 49 seconds and the guys are doing 52 seconds - he was so good and far ahead, it was unbelievable.

"So just trying to stretch the limit of the times - if I can go something crazy like 57 or 56 seconds for example, and the guys are still going 58 seconds - it will be something cool where you leave your mark. Something that would be very hard to beat."

While Van der Burgh also has his sights set on going up another distance to the 200m breaststroke, he is quick to assure he would not do it at the expense of his specialist 50m and 100m breaststroke events.

"I think I have a good chance of doing well in the 200m if I work hard at it, but I am not going to jeopardise my 50m and 100m to do a reasonably good 200m but not be the best."

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