Brownlow medallist Dane Swan got into a different sport entirely when he signed up to do Ten's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but the former Collingwood AFL star appreciated it all the same and ended up the runner-up behind Queen of the Jungle Casey Donovan. Swan tells WHO about his travel plans with girlfriend Taylor Wilson and his newfound strategy for building better relationships.
Q: So how much more have you eaten since your first big feed out of the jungle?
A: Oh, geez. I had a fair go last night. I started with anything I could get my hands on, really, a lot of chips, chocolate, then I went to meat, then half a cheesecake, plenty of red wine, a couple of beers, and now I've just been handed an orange juice, so absolutely anything I can get my hands on. I'm about to put all this weight back on, which is a shame, but I think I deserve it.
Q: Did all the stuff that you ate on the show change your appetite or the kinds of food you crave?
A: Well I certainly hope not because I ate some pretty horrible things in there, so I certainly hope I won't come out craving fermented herring, frogs and tarantulas and stuff. I hope I get back to the normal food I really enjoy, but time will tell. I'm not sure Taylor's going to be keen on cooking tarantulas, fermented fish and kudu intestines, but you never know.
Q: Did you feel slimmer? What was it like to look at yourself in the mirror?
A: Oof, well, I've had to look at myself in the mirror on many occasions in the last two or three years, but looking at myself in the mirror is a completely different feeling right now. It is actually quite weird because you didn't have a mirror for 45 days and everyone's telling you how much weight you've lost and obviously we did the weight trial where I lost 14kg, so for the first time in a long time, I was actually looking forward to looking at myself in the mirror and it's amazing how much, or how thin I am, or actually the other way, how much weight I had put on not knowing it after I finished footy, so a little six-week crash diet, hopefully I can keep the majority of it off. I'm not stupid enough to think I'm going to stay this way, but if I only put on a couple of kilos, I'll be pretty happy.
Q: Fans of the show say you were consistently nice and calm, and Taylor says that's always been who you really are. Was it a good thing to show that?
A: I didn't go in trying to be more laid back or mellow or relaxed. That's just me, and you can't really not be yourself in there. You know, you could do it for a little bit, but the cameras are on 24-7, so if you were putting on a fake persona, people would catch on and realise it. I was myself and I think that helped me get through just being relaxed and not getting too stressed about things because I chose to go in there. I wasn't placed in the situation unawares, so there was no point complaining about what I was doing in there, so I just got on with it like I do most things.
Q: What was the challenge in which you surprised yourself the most?
A: The fear of the unknown, when you're blindfolded and stuff and you don't know what you're putting your hand into or putting your feet into, that's the one where it's the most mentally challenging because you actually don't know. When you can see, you can sort of deal with it mentally, but when your eyes are closed and you've got crocodiles snapping at your feet, that's when it can get a little bit scary.
Q: Are you surprised by the friendships that you've made?
A: I probably am a little bit surprised. The friendships that I've formed with completely random people in there, people whom if I met them in the outside world, we wouldn't have formed friendships just because we run in different circles and have completely different lives. But one of the best things about this show was actually going in and seeing people from other walks of life, different cultures and religions, different personalities, to be able to understand just because they don't necessarily like the same things or do the same things on a daily basis doesn't mean we can't have very strong friendships, so it certainly surprised me but it's a very great surprise. I'm not going to walk away with 13 best friends, but I'll certainly walk away with four or five very strong relationships that I intend to keep for a long time.
Q: You've said that the show gave you a lot of time to think about life and relationships. Do you have new goals for when you get home?
A: Absolutely. You have a lot of time to think in there. That's all you do. The thing that I probably realise now is just being present, being in the moment with the people I'm around. I put myself around people that I like because I enjoy their company, not because I enjoy what the back of their phone looks like when they're looking at it. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm never going to look at my phone or I'll look at it only once a day, but just little things, like at meal times, just put my phone away so I can't look at it, or maybe two or three times a week when we eat dinner at home, I'll have the TV off so I'm looking at the telly while Taylor is trying to talk to me about her day at work. Just listening a bit more and being there for my friends and family more than I had in the past because I've had so much distraction. I like distraction, but I'm trying to slowly erode some of it out.
Q: So marriage is not in the cards this year, but travel is?
A: Yep. I can't wait. It starts immediately. We're in South Africa, so we're going to Cape Town this arvo for a few days, then I'm going to come back and then we go to Coachella in April in California for three or four weeks, then come back May and June, and then we've got a one-way ticket to Greece and we'll figure it out there from there, so yeah, because playing footy, all this time I'd be playing right now, so this is the gap year where I've wanted to do all the things that I haven't been able to do, like the European summer, or the American summer, and experience all that because who knows where my life is going to end up in 2018. I'm not silly enough to think that I'm never going to have to work again, so I'm going to have to start working and doing some normal jobs again. So this is the year I want to have a lot of fun and do the things I've never been able to do and thank goodness I'm going to be able to.
Q: Will you get new tattoos to commemorate your experiences?
A: I will certainly get a new tattoo. I have no doubt about it. Steve Price is getting my initials on him, so that's great, and I might return the favour to help him out, but new tattoos are certainly coming. I thought about it a lot in the jungle, just thinking what I'm going to get, but I'll get back to my shop and have a sit-down with the guys but new tattoos are definitely on the menu.