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Nic and Dylan talk SAS: Who Dares Wins

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Nic and Dylan talk SAS: Who Dares Wins

The second episode aired yesterday of the latest series.

The elite team of ex-special forces operators from the UK and USA have recreated the SAS’s secret selection process and put recruits through it, in the ultimate test of their physical and psychological resilience.

For the new run, they’ve created the toughest course yet, played out against the unforgiving and epic backdrop of the Jordanian desert. With 15 years of experience in multiple war zones, chief instructor and ex-US recon marine Rudy Reyes leads a new team, including ex-US Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke, and regulars Billy Billingham and Foxy (Jason Fox), as they push recruits to the max.

Despite a psychologically and physically challenging first stage of selection, all 20 recruits still remained as week two aired.

In last night’s episode, the recruits were paired up, as one freefalled off the top of a 50-foot cliff, while their partner had to break their fall before the ground was hit. They also faced a brutal beasting in the desert, which pushed some recruits to the edge, and were forced to make a split-second decision about whether to fire in a combat situation.

Two recruits whose stories came to light during the episode is Dylan (recruit number 2) whose mum was one of the 22 victims killed in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.  Dylan’s mum had attended the Ariana Grande Concert with Dylan’s sister. Thankfully, his sister remained unharmed.

Dylan has struggled to deal with this tragedy, especially as he feels more responsible for protecting his younger brother and sister now but he has since spent the past 4 years raising money for charities in his mum’s honour.

Why did you decide to take part in SAS: Who Dares Wins?
I decided to take part in SAS who dares wins as I tragically lost my mother (Michelle) on 22 of May 2017, in the Manchester Arena Bombings. This understablly turned my life upside down. I wanted to prove to myself how far I have come both mentally and physically since, and to further prove to myself that I have come out stronger from the unfortunate circumstances.

I am a huge mental health advocate, with many people around me suffering in some way, I wanted to come on to the show to raise more awareness and hopefully do work in the future to help people who suffer, as I believe I can use my own personal experience to help other who may be struggling. I have done a lot of charity work since losing my mother, organising charity golf days, raising over £40,000 in total to give back to the Manchester hospitals who helped the injured from the horrific events. I wanted to take part in the show and raise more awareness for the work I have been doing and hopefully then be able to organise more charity days and raise more money for the hospitals who provided the much-needed care during that time.

What did you hope to get out of this experience?
I wanted to find out how strong I am mentally by pushing myself to my limits. I thought it would better me as a person and I needed a mental push to see what my mind and body could go through.

How did you prepare for the course?  Any training?
I prepared for the course by training in my gym at home, and going on runs. I stopped drinking alcohol to try and ‘up’ my health as much as possible as I knew it would be strenuous.

What part of the course did you find the hardest?
Being cold at night impacted me a lot, and being cut off from the outside world as I am very close to my family especially my sister and my friends.

Mental or physical – which challenged you the most?
Mentally, I felt on edge of what was to come and felt I couldn’t truly switch off as I was always on edge about when we would get woken up and what challenges they may throw out to us next.

How did you cope with the searing Jordanian heat?  Were you prepared for the climate?
Training at home in lots of clothes as I was preparing myself for heat, I do feel like I was prepared.

How did you feel going into the challenge?
Excited to see what was to come.

Was your SAS experience as you expected?  What was different?  What was as expected? And why?
It was extremely difficult. I didn’t expect it to be that intense.

What is your biggest fear?
Commitment.

Were you surprised to find 2 of the DS were American?
No.

What did you learn or take from each of the DS?
I learnt nothing was impossible.

Did you notice a big difference between the US and UK instructors?
I t
hought the Americans were less strict!

Did you see a real brotherhood between the US and UK DS?  Tell me about that.
Yes, they had a tight connection and mutual respect.

Did you form any close bonds with your fellow recruits?
Yes, with Paige, Jamie, Leo, Claire and Pahrnia.

Were there any arguments or did you operate pretty well as a team?
No arguments, we all worked together as a good team.

What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
I have learnt that I am able to put my mind to, and focus on things, a lot better than I originally thought. I was able to give something my all and fully commit to being the best I could be. I pushed myself to my limits and then some which has made me realise how mentally strong I can be. I learnt a lot about myself, when things get tough people are there. Everyone has a story. Everyone has been through their own stuff.

Also, in last night’s episode was firefighter, Nic, who, as a child, struggled to identify with the female gender he had been born as. One of his earliest memories is going to bed at 5 years old and “praying that he wouldn’t wake up with breasts”. Nic really struggled emotionally in his teens once puberty hit. He couldn’t fully comprehend his feelings at the time, as transitioning was taboo and he has not openly spoken about it.

Nic joined the fire service 20 years ago as a female firefighter. He was initially scared and anxious about revealing his struggles to his colleagues. As it was a male-dominated workplace, he feared being judged – but the service proved to be a great support to him. In 2012, after numerous surgeries, he transitioned into a man and says he finally feels like his external matches the person he knows himself to be on the inside. Nic feels like his life only really began in earnest after he transitioned. Nic is doing the SAS course because he has spent so many years coming to accept himself, he now wants to focus on what he can do and see how far he can push himself.

Why did you decide to take part in SAS: Who Dares Wins?
I had watched the show for many seasons and had always wondered whether I would be able to succeed in the process. After turning 40 years old and having faced many obstacles in my life, I felt the time was right for a new challenge and that is what I saw this as. A big personal challenge.

What did you hope to get out of this experience?
I went on the show to discover my capabilities, how far I could push myself and also find out who I am as a person. I had spent a large portion of my life not really being comfortable or knowing myself and hoped that the experience and being away from everyday life in a unique situation would help me discover the true person I am at the end of it.

How did you prepare for the course?  Any training?
I was already at a decent level of fitness as I have worked as a firefighter for 20 years but I also knew that I needed to test my stamina, so I did follow the advised training programme before taking part.

What part of the course did you find the hardest?
I found it more mentally challenging than anything. Not being able to relax as you just weren’t prepared for whatever was coming. The unknown and the effect on my mental being. Physically, I found the beastings the hardest as again you just didn’t know when it would end. Those were the moments where I considered giving in.

Mental or physical – which challenged you the most?
It is difficult to answer that question as I found them both equally as challenging. The physical challenges had an impact on my mentality, but you knew the pain was going to end.

How did you cope with the searing Jordanian heat?  Were you prepared for the climate?
I was not prepared for the levels of heat we experienced. I definitely prefer being in a colder environment than a hot environment. I struggle with not feeling clean and a hot environment just exacerbates the feeling of being dirty on top of the sand and dust.

How did you feel going into the challenge?
I felt a level of excitement but there was a fear of the unknown. I was out of my comfort zone but knew that I needed to have my boundaries pushed. I am willing to take on any challenge, so it was a mixture of excitement and fear, but mostly excitement.

Was your SAS experience as you expected?  What was different?  What was as expected? And why?
Watching the show, you have some idea of what to expect during the challenges, but I didn’t appreciate the time that these took and how much of the day was spent on them. I didn’t consider that it was also a TV show so the logistical times of checking comms equipment etc were not expected. I also had some idea of what the accommodation would be like so the only thing that was unknown was the type of place we’d be going. Although the boots were a bit of a giveaway.

What is your biggest fear?
Not being accepted for who I am. Because if the journey I have been on with my identity, I am always afraid to be open and honest with people as I never know what reaction I will receive. I just want to be accepted for me and as there is still so much education to be done around trans awareness, this is not always the case.

Were you surprised to find 2 of the DS were American?
Yes, this was a surprise, I have watched each previous season and although I was aware of the change in team I had expected that the previous team members would just be taking over as they are fantastic at what they do. It definitely felt like a change in dynamic and the U.K. team felt more relatable.

What did you learn or take from each of the DS?
There were some of the team that I had more interaction with than the others. Rudy and Foxy were the DS that I spoke one-on-one with and the punishments were delivered by Rudy so, along with Billy, they were the three that I remember the most. If anything, I took away from ‘Billy’ to be more aware of my surroundings and to take in everything that is going on. That you can get a lot more done if you move with purpose.

Did you notice a big difference between the US and UK instructors?
Yes. I could relate to the U.K. team more as of course they were recognisable from previous seasons.

Did you form any close bonds with your fellow recruits?
Yes, recruit number 5, Stacey. We were very much alike in a lot of ways. We were a similar age and both from the same area of the U.K. We both went on the course for the same reasons. To discover who we are after a period of feeling very lost. We continue to meet up after the show and it has been good to have someone that fully understands the experience we went through as it is hard to explain to other friends and family.

Were there any arguments or did you operate pretty well as a team?
I definitely felt some clashes with other members of the team – there was an occasion I spoke up when I felt that an injustice was happening with the food rationing. I consider myself to be a leader when needed as I am in my professional life, so I have no qualms speaking up when I feel something is not right. I am also capable of taking a step back when I can see things are working just fine.

What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
That I am mentally stronger than I thought I was. To be taken out of my everyday situation, going somewhere unknown, not having any idea of what was ahead, being with a lot of strangers, all of which are uncomfortable for me. I expected to struggle a lot more mentally with these elements but I actually surprised myself at how well I coped.

SAS: Who Dares Wins, continues next Sunday on Channel 4. Catch up on All 4.

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