By Mark Hodge @mrhodgey

A FEARLESS daredevil comes face-to-face with a four metre long American crocodile in an extraordinary photo-shoot

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Videographer / Director: Jamie Brain, Eli Martinez
Producer: Mark Hodge, Nick Johnson
Editor: Joshua Douglas, Kyle Waters

Roberta got up and close personal without wearing any diving gear

Italian thrill-seeker Roberta Mancino fulfilled a long-held dream by swimming with the reptiles in the Gulf of Mexico.

Travelling 30 miles from the coast to a lagoon in the middle of the Banco Chinchorro - home to roughly 700 of the reptiles - Roberta was keen to learn about their behaviour.

Filming over five days in June this year, she spent a total of 10 hours swimming with the crocodiles.

Brave Robert comes face-to-face with one of the American crocodiles

As the crocs became more comfortable in her presence, Roberta’s team were able to capture enchanting images of her just inches from the predators.

She said: “I have a list of animals which I would love to swim with, so it was one of my dreams to swim with crocodiles.

"I have wanted to do this project for six years but I could never find someone to fund it because it is so dangerous.

"I was about to go there myself without a sponsor and then social network TSU said that they would fund the production.

The Italian model spent years trying to get sponsorship so she could swim with the animals

“The other reason I couldn't make it happen for a long time is logistics - it's a really hard place to get to.

“You have to go to Cancun and then drive for five hours and then you have to take a boat for two hours.

“It's in the middle of nowhere."

The Banco Chinchorro atoll reef is regarded as one of the the best places in the world to see American crocodiles.

The daredevil and a crocodile photographed with their heads above water

The enormous ring of coral is around 25 miles long and is nearly 10 miles wide at its longest point.

Diving companies provide trips for people wanting to come face-to-face with the reptiles, and the enormous crocodiles can grow to between 2.5m and 4m long.

It is common for tourists to swim in the Banco Chinchorro and capture images of the animals, but most divers are not prepared to get as up close and personal as Roberta.

Roberta takes a selfie as divers swim below

The Italian model didn’t just want to swim with the animals for the adrenaline rush - she was also keen to dispel some common misconceptions.

She said: "Obviously I don't want everyone to start swimming with crocodiles but I wanted to show that they are not bad animals.

"I had to stay in the water for a long time to get an understanding of the animals – that is why you see me at first going down with a mask.

The thrill-seeker slipped into something more comfortable once the crocodiles were used to having her around

"We spent around 10 hours in the water with the crocodiles to learn about their behaviour.

"Once I knew the animals were comfortable then I did the shots without the mask.

"Nobody really knew what would happen as no one has really done this before – spending that long, that close, next to a crocodile without a mask."

Roberta swam with the crocodiles in June.

She has also completed at least 9000 skydives, 450 BASE jumps, and enjoys wingsuiting.