Durban - South Africa's Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh is hoping to avoid surgery over a troublesome shoulder, saying the next two months will be crucial in determining how to resolve the problem.
The 26-year-old has been struggling with pain recently as a result of non-stop competition, his most recent being the SA Short Course Swimming Championships in Pietermaritzburg last week.
"It's as bad as what you see," he said.
"A lot of specialists and surgeons want to operate on it the first time they see it, but I'm taking the rehab route rather.
"For the next six weeks, I'll try and relax, lay lower and do a lot of rehab on the shoulder. It's more the irritation than the injury. If I can just get rid of that then it'll be okay."
Van der Burgh planned to do as little in-pool training as possible during the next few weeks, but would continue doing other exercises and gym work.
If he did require surgery, the breaststroke specialist could face a race against time to be fit for the Short Course World Championships in Doha in early December.
The Pretoria swimmer, who won a gold, silver and bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month, planned to swim all three breaststroke distances in Qatar.
"The Commonwealth Games were lovely," he said as he reflected on Team SA's swimming showings in Scotland.
"We brought in a lot of medals and we were all very happy.
"It was also nice to see that it was not just one or two people bringing home medals, but a whole variety. It was definitely a step in the right direction and that makes me very excited looking ahead to Rio."
In KwaZulu-Natal last week, Van der Burgh won three national titles -- 50 metres, 100m and 200m breaststroke -- and swam the required qualifying times for the year-end spectacle as well.
The world-record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke was pleased with his showing and also that of several others at the meet, saying the momentum was carried over from the Commonwealth Games last month.
"If you look at the performances from most of the swimmers that were not even in the Commonwealth team, a lot of them delivered excellent performances with personal best times -- they were really motivated and excited.
"So that was encouraging. I think swimming as a whole in South Africa, with the talent and the performances, is quite healthy at the moment."