As Wendy Pethrick, 36, was attacked by the croc in a creek in Australia's remote Northern Territory, she struggled to try to prise open the two-metre reptile's jaws.
She screamed out for help to her husband Norm, who was on the bank. Without a moment's hesitation, he leapt on the croc, which was about to go into a “death roll” with Mrs Pethrick under the water.
He battered the croc, felt for its eyes and poked them until it let his wife go.
The terrified couple were then able to struggle to safety. Mother-of-three Wendy suffered eight deep puncture wounds to her left thigh, a cut to her right thigh and a severe cut to a finger.
The couple had been enjoying a day out at the Litchfield National Park, near Darwin, where swimming in the freshwater creeks is considered safe from crocodiles.
There has never been a crocodile attack there before.
From her hospital bed, Mrs Pethrick said: “I'm lucky to be alive, thanks to Norm. It's a love affair. I gave him a very big kiss.
'The croc was very fast. One minute I was standing there on the river bank and the next it had me in its teeth and was pulling me in the water.
'But my husband was even faster. He is a real hero.'
Mr Pethrick added: “When you need to save someone you love, you do it.
'You could call it a two-pronged attack. At least I can make light of it now - I'm just very, very happy that between the two of us we were able to make the croc let go.'
Dr Len Notaras, general manager of the Royal Darwin Hospital, said: 'But for his heroism and then the swift action of both husband and wife in poking the crocodile in the eyes to make it let go, this could have had a fatal and tragic ending.
'His swift and diligent actions without any doubt saved her life because once he started poking the crocodile in the eyes, his wife did the same. He bravely and selflessly responded it what was a very dangerous situation.'
The hospital dealt with three crocodile attack victims last year, he added.
Ranger Luke Playford said: 'There's been a lot of heavy rain in recent months and these saltwater crocodiles can find their way into rivers and creeks where they are not normally found,' he added.