American-based South African Olympic gold medallist Darian Townsend is at a crossroads in his swimming career. His second Olympic Games are a few months away and he has to prove to the world that he is a professional swimmer. It isn’t an easy job. “Unless you’re Michael Phelps, who is the best swimmer in the world, you don’t get publicity,” says Townsend (23). Getting publicity means sponsorship deals, which a professional sportsperson depends on to turn a passion into a career. “I joined my mum’s swimming classes in this very pool,” he says. “But my parents soon realised that I needed to start training professionally and so when I was seven I joined the Pietermaritzburg Seals Swimming Club as a club night swimmer.” He then moved on to Wayne Riddin’s swim squad, beginning his career for the Seals.