Cronulla's Danny Kerr has headed off on a money-can't-buy Italian water polo adventure after signing with Roman based club SC Tuscolano for the 2021/22 Italian Serie A2 season.
The Australian Catholic University student is packing his bags for a stint at the university's Rome Campus, where he will continue his course online and develop his water polo skills.
Brushing up on his Italian is a must for Kerr, who will be the first Australian student to land at Campus di Roma since the COVID-19 international border closures.
Italy's top-flight water polo leagues are professional competitions. The Bachelor of Commerce undergraduate will also have the opportunity to train with some of the world's top players at ACU Serie A1 affiliate club Lazio Nuoto.
If that means wearing a few blows, then the young left-hander will gladly absorb the hard lessons.
"For a lot of those guys, this is their living," Kerr said. "They're playing to keep a roof over their heads.
"If I have to wear a few on the chin, then I can't get upset."
The 21-year-old will stay in one of the self-contained apartments at the Rome Campus while he plays overseas and studies online across the summer semester and next year's semester one.
Continuing his education in and out of the pool in Italy will be a rare and cherished opportunity for Kerr, a member of ACU's Elite Athlete and Performer Program.
Top tier water polo competitions in Australia have paused due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Starved of training and playing routines, Kerr and many of his ACU Cronulla Sharks teammates have taken to ocean swimming to keep fit, while the international exposure during his second-year business studies will be priceless.
"I can't wait to gain invaluable experience by diving into the Italian water polo league," he said.
"I'm especially grateful for the support from the university and club. It has been imperative for my development."
Kerr is no stranger to Rome, following a training stint with Lazio in 2019.
This time around, training up to 10 sessions per week and playing endlessly through a seven-month season will develop the skills, fitness and resilience needed to chase his Olympic dream.
"That's a lot of games and a lot of experience," he said. "I'm pushing for Paris in 2024, so for me, that's invaluable."
"I'll probably be flogged, but it's going to do me a world of good."
Kerr's mother, Karen, thanked ACU for providing him with an "experience of a lifetime".
"Cronulla Sharks Water Polo Club members, teammates are excited for him and thanks to his coach Vedran for encouraging Danny to take up this opportunity," she said.
"Great stuff securing a sponsor/internship - thanks to the team at Digga Australia for your support. Thanks also to Allykmta for her professionalism and advice to get him out of the country."
"We will miss you, Danny - we're proud of you following your passion."