Johannesburg - After missing nearly three months of swimming, Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh could not have asked for a better result than the silver medal in the men's 50m breaststroke at the FINA World Short-course Championships in Doha last week.
"I am very happy with the silver medal all things considered.
"I had a shoulder injury and missed so much training," Van der Burgh said on his return on Monday.
"I was just happy to get back into it. The guys are relentless at that level. They punish you for any little mistake you make."
Van der Burgh opted for intensive rehabilitation and rest following the Commonwealth Games, instead of surgery to his troubled shoulder.
"I really felt the lack of racing and training but I am as motivated as ever to get back for next season and the World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
"We are about 21 months away from the Olympics and that is obviously the big one that I am working for," he said.
In the 100m breaststroke Van der Burgh just missed out on a podium spot, which was the first time he made it into a final of a major championship without finishing in the top three.
Touching the wall in fourth place, the Pretoria swimmer missed out on the bronze by 0.02 seconds and was 0.51 seconds slower than champion Felipe Franca Silva of Brazil.
In the 50m breaststroke final he was joint second with Britain's Adam Peaty.
They were 0.24 seconds behind Silva, who won the event in a time of 25.63 seconds.
"It is so tough, swimming is so competitive at the moment. The depth is unbelievable. If you look at the times you have to achieve to qualify for the semi-final you can't compare it to two years ago," he said.
This was highlighted with the 23 world records bettered during the championship, compared to the 17 set at the 2008 edition in Manchester.
Van der Burgh said a change in approach to training methods made all the difference, which resulted in the quality performances in the pool.
"Swimming is just getting so fast. I think there is a different approach. It was always just training to see how much mileage you can do. Now people understand that the speed endurance is the key," he said.
Van der Burgh believes going the rehabilitation route helped him.
He is confident that he would be back in top form for hat would be a crucial year in the build-up towards the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
"It was the best decision instead of doing surgery. I am looking forward to race and train pain-free.
"Next year is a stepping stone towards the Olympic Games so you want to be in the top three next year at the World Championships.
"You don't want to drop too far away from the top guys," he said.