10 Feb 2011

Cook Islands swimmer thankful his six hour swim saved his mates

7:35 pm on 10 February 2011

A Cook Islands man is thankful he and his two fishing mates are alive after he made an epic six hour swim to help rescue his friends.

Te Ina Tapurau says the three men were several kilometres west of Rarotonga when a huge freak wave caused their small fishing boat to capsize in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The tour guide says the men were unable to right their vessel and when one of his companions tired, he was determined to make it to shore to raise the alarm

"So we just decided to swim together, swim back. But my two other buddies, one was tired to carry on now, so I decided ohh, I'll swim all the way for a rescue. I was just picking lights and I started drifting but I didn't care where I was at least I make it on land."

Mr Tapurau says the men didn't have lifejackets on board and he swam supported by an empty petrol container, while his friends used a second container and a boat buoy to stay afloat.

His companions, Constable Johnny George and Augustine Heatherwere were rescued after twelve hours of drifting at sea.