Pretoria - Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh is back from his European sojourn and will be counting the days to the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia next month.
Van der Burgh participated in two legs of the Mare Nostrum series in Spain and France with the rest of the South African contingent before travelling to Rome for the Sette Colli gala in June.
Finishing off his Euro trip, Van der Burgh won gold in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the French Open in Vichy over the weekend.
The 27-year-old was satisfied with performances in the Northern Hemisphere and believes the experiences there steeled him for the World Championships.
“The times were better than I expected so I am very happy with that, and it has given me a lot of confidence going to Worlds,” Van der Burgh said.
“Although I was confident before, I have a lot more confidence now going into the World Championships and with the Olympic Games next year.
“Because we come from the speed and power kind of side, and not the endurance swimming side, it is harder to do faster times in season because you are tired all the time as I train myself really hard and with the heavy gym.”
Van der Burgh left for Europe with the prospect of facing Britain’s Adam Peaty, who usurped the South African of his title as the world’s fastest swimmer in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
Peaty topped the podium in the first two Mare Nostrum legs with Van der Burgh posting the second fastest time in the 50m breaststroke this season with his 27.01 seconds in Rome.
“It was nice to race against Adam, and just to feel him out, and especially when we were next to each other in the lane where you stare each other down and there is no mercy kind of thing,” Van der Burgh said.
“It is what you live for, you just want to get onto the blocks and race the best in the world and take these guys down. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed myself.”
Although Van der Burgh set out to post a sub-60 second swim, travel delays did not help him in his cause.
“We were looking to do our best times in Rome (Sette Colli) because we came into Mare Nostrum pretty tired from training and as you race you get faster,” he said.
“That was the case and I started to get faster but then in Rome when I flew I landed at 4am and I had to be up again at 7am to race in the 100m breaststroke heats.”
Van der Burgh nevertheless came away with a silver medal and coming painstakingly close to dipping below 60 seconds in the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:00.77 in the final.
“I was a bit bummed with that because then I only went 1:00.68 which is still good with three hours of sleep but I would still have like to hit a 59 seconds there,” he said.
“That was little bit of a disappointment but things don't always go your way. It was a tough test that I overcame so at least now no other 100m breaststroke race will be as hard as that one with three hours of sleep.”
Van der Burgh will spend less than two weeks at home before he jets-off to a pre-world championships camp in Turkey with the swimming events starting on August 2.