When Kyle Chalmers won the 100m freestyle at Rio 2016, he was just a month past his 18th birthday and the youngest individual male champion since fellow Australian Ian Thorpe.
And awaiting him back home was Cock the Croc, a freshwater crocodile that Kyle believes could grow to three metres long.
At the start of 2020 he had almost 500 reptiles thanks to a good breeding season.
He told The Guardian: “Sitting in my reptile room for me is equivalent to going out for a few beers with my mates. They have definitely helped me away from the pool.”
“It gives me that healthy adrenaline hit that I need when I go out there and open an enclosure and a snake wants to jump out and bite me, or a crocodile latches onto my finger and takes a bit of blood.”
Kyle – nicknamed ‘Big Tuna’ - had shown enormous promise since starting with his first coach, Carolyn Veldhuyzen, at St Joseph’s School, Port Lincoln in South Australia.
He set about taking apart Thorpe’s age group records – one time competing against the advice of a doctor because he had broken his finger during AFL training.
Australian rules football is a huge passion for Kyle whose love for the game was instilled by his father Brett – who played for the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power in the AFL - and he revealed last year that Geelong Cats and Port had reached out to him for a Category B Rookie spot.
He hasn’t ruled out a move to the AFL in the future although there are more races to be won.