Darian quietly confident | SASCOC - SASCOC

Darian quietly confident

By Kate Nokwe

Darian Townsend has no illusion about the obstacles and stress that accompany an Olympic arena; but the American based swimmer is confident that 2012 is a whole new ball game.

ÔÇ£A lot has changed since Beijing. We were the only code that retained the athletes from Athens, and although we had experience on our side, I guess we underestimated the new blood,ÔÇØ says the Olympic gold medallist.

On a journey to his third Olympics, should he meet the qualifying times (internationally and locally), Townsend is certain Beijing 2008 is only a vivid memory, and that 2012 will be a positive year for Team SA.

ÔÇ£We have different structures in placed and the financial support from SASCOC has made things that much easier. This has enabled us to just focus on training as opposed to previous yearsÔÇØ, says the 27-year-old, who had to rely on his parents for financial stability before the country’s Olympic governing body stepped in.

While the likes of breaststroker Cameron van der Burgh have adopted the “keep a low-profile'”route, the KwaZulu-Natal born swimmer has been going all out.

ÔÇ£Everyone has their own structure and we prepare differently, I definitely believe I’ll do better if I know which level my body is at,ÔÇØ he told Road to London 2012.

ÔÇ£And even if I wanted to ‘lay low’ it would be kind of difficult here in the States where all the big guys are. And so, yeah I’ve been competing as much as I can with the likes of Michael Phelps and those guys.ÔÇØ

Speaking of Phelps, Townsend reckons the world record holder might have seen the last of his dominating days. ÔÇ£He is phenomenal. He has achieved what no other swimmer has, and he’ll definitely be one of the guys to watch out for in London. However, I do think being beaten by the likes of Ryan gave him a wake-up call, reminded him there’s competitionÔÇØ, he said, referring to Lochte clocking a winner at the Swimming World Championships in Shanghai, China back in July 2011.

As excited as he is for the success that is Chad Le Clos, the Arizona University student is also reminded to up his game. ÔÇ£It is humbling to see the lad doing so well, I remember in 2004 when he was just a teen, and he looked up to us. And now he has achieved so much. It’s definitely a constant reminder to train harder, up my game.ÔÇØ

Many may have dubbed SASCOC President, Gideon Sam’s 12@12 dream as just that ÔÇô a dream ÔÇô but Townsend doesn’t see it as an impossible task at all. He’s expecting a few medals from the pool, and is quick to point at Le Clos, Van der Burgh, Gideon Louw, 2004 success Roland Schoeman and himself to do well.

ÔÇ£I think if we can get to the finals, anything is possible. Not just in the pool, but the other codes. 12 (medals) is really not that huge a number.ÔÇØ

A much ‘wiser’, ‘older’ and more ‘experienced’ Townsend will be in South Africa in April for the National Championships where he will continue with his attempt to make that coveted trip to London. ÔÇ£I can’t wait to be home. I have missed it so much. As great being in the States is, South Africa will always be home and I’ll one day move back. Maybe after I retire I can come back and coach there. Who knowsÔÇØ.

He may be thousands of kilometres away, but Townsend could barely hide his excitement of the Team SA Mascot that will accompany the team. ÔÇ£Ahh that’s awesome, man. I can’t wait. It’s going to add so much tradition to the games. I can’t wait.ÔÇØ

Follow Darian’s Road To London ÔÇô he’s on Twitter @DarianTownsend