Eden Dally became the fifth SAS Australia contestant to exit the show tonight, after a traumatic past experience with the ocean reared its head, preventing him from completing a treacherous ocean rope challenge.
The 28-year-old was unable to complete a cat crawl across a rope stretched between two cliff faces with the thundering ocean yawning beneath, after the sight triggered memories of a 2015 tragedy that saw him witness a drowning at a popular beach.
Eden told the SAS cameras that the event played on his mind as he tried and failed to overcome the challenge, and the new dad has revealed to Yahoo Lifestyle the harrowing details of the experience that saw him come unstuck.
“Going over that rope and looking down at the ocean, from that past tragedy I had had, it kind of just brought back these bad memories that just got into my head that day,” he says.
Eden explains that he was one of the witnesses to a 2015 drowning at Avoca Beach on Sydney’s Central Coast that made the news at the time. In an article from The Daily Telegraph at the time Eden is referred to as a ‘22-year-old Ryde man’, well before his days of reality fame on Love Island.
“Years ago I was at Avoca Beach and there was a man drowning,” he says. “I had a surfboard, and I’m not the strongest swimmer but I went in to save him. When I reached him, he just like sunk.”
“So I jumped off my board had a look around but I couldn’t find him.”
Eden explains that it was once his leg strap connecting him to the board snapped that he had to start concentrating on saving his own life.
“I nearly drowned,” he says. “I was in the water for 10 minutes, trying to get my way back. We were in an unpatrolled area of the beach and when the lifeguards finally came and as I made my way back to the beach the man I had tried to save still hadn’t resurfaced.”
“[Eventually] they dragged him in and tried to revive him but he died,” he says. “That was the first time I had seen a dead body, so when I look at the ocean sometimes it freaks me out a little bit. I just think back to that day.”
He says the memories proved his breaking point on the show where he hoped to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, a veteran.
“So with the height thing and staring at the ocean, it just got to my head,” he says. “It really did bring horrible flashbacks for me.”
He says he is proud of his time with the show, but like so many of the contestants who pull out earlier, has some regrets.
“I’m a little dirty with myself because I know I’m better than I was,” he admits. “I wish I pushed myself a little harder than I did.”
As for his perhaps less than generous amount of screentime on the series, he says he has no complaints and was essentially just happy to be there.
“With the calibre of stars on the show I don’t get offended that I’m not shown that much I’m just happy to be a part of an all-star cast and such a successful show,” he says.
SAS Australia continues Tuesday night at 7:30 pm on Seven
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