You must’ve been asked to do a few reality shows since you retired from the pool. Why did you agree to do the hardest one of all?
I’ve been asked to do quite a few different reality shows and I’ve always said no because they just didn’t feel the right fit for me. The reason I said yes to SAS Australia is that I kind of felt like I’d get something out of it and take something away from it.
Before I agreed though, I did a lot of research on the TV series to get an idea of what I was in for. I watched the British version of the show and I knew it would be pretty harrowing. I just didn’t know how harrowing it would be.
What did you want to gain from doing it?
I hoped I’d gain a new perspective on life and what I was going to do with my future after retiring from swimming. I like having something to train for, too. Until this show came along, I was feeling a little demotivated. Now that I don’t have swimming to train for, I thought this would be something to get back into shape for.
Did you let yourself go when you retired from swimming last year?
I gave myself a break from training and from the pool actually. Now I don’t really swim much at all any more. It still feels a bit like work for me.
Have you picked up any injuries?
I got shin splits, which were really painful. Coming from a swimming background, I’m not used to running for hours each day with a 20kg pack on my back. That was a shock to my system. My hands got really beaten up, too. I lost skin off my fingers and they would bleed when I tied my shoelaces in the morning. The doctor told me afterwards it was frostbite. The cold got to me really bad.
How did you find the other contenders?
I knew a few before doing the show. I got along really well with Merrick Watts, Mitch Johnson and Shannan Ponton. I knew [swimmer] Shayna Jack a little bit, but most of the people were new to me. In swimming, you’re in your own little bubble. You don’t meet a lot of people outside the sport because you’re just so focused on the sport and your performance. It was cool to meet other people from different backgrounds. Firass [Dirani] is a character. He’s so defiant and he brought a lot of trouble because he couldn’t keep quiet. I don’t think there’s anyone who can shut him down.
SAS Australia airs Mon. and Tue., 7.30pm on Channel Seven
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