While Van der Burgh still produced silverware at this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games, he did not quite have the speed for him to dominate the 200m breaststroke events.
“The Commonwealth Games was a good learning curve for me. We tried a few things throughout the year that was showing a lot of potential, but when we got to the Games it unfortunately did not work out for the type of swimmer I am,” Van der Burgh said at a breakfast hosted by the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre on Wednesday.
The world record holder relinquished his 100m breaststroke crown to England’s Adam Peaty at the Glasgow Games to finish second.
However, he successfully defended his 50m breaststroke title in a new Games record time of 26.76 seconds.
Van der Burgh said too much emphasis had been placed on endurance training, which meant he had sacrificed much-needed pace in the pool.
“I did a little bit too much aerobic work and not enough anaerobic, so as soon as you push to that next level then the body just shuts down,” he said.
“Unfortunately I did not have as much speed and so I would get out of a race after a final and feel like I could do another one.”
Van der Burgh, who first made waves as a 50m breaststroke swimmer before moving up to the 100m, said longer disciplines were perhaps a bridge too far.
“We wanted to try to add the 200m but we decided it was just too far for me coming from 50m to 100m and up to 200m,” Van der Burgh said.
“It is four times bigger and it is too much of a stretch to my liking for my natural ability.”
Although the focus on aerobic exercise did not have the required results for the shorter distances he would not completely shelve his plans for the 200m breaststroke.
“It is not like all the work was in vain because the aerobic will carry you and I can still see the benefits now,” he said.
“We still have great endurance pace, but now we just need to bring the speed in. It is not a bad thing two years out from the Olympics. We’ve got a nice base to work on and at least we know what changes to make to get it right.”
Van der Burgh could be swimming all three distances at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Doha in December.
“I will do 200m now at world short course, so we will try the 200m, but on my own terms, not on endurance terms,” he said.