Faith helped ‘real-life Aquaman’ make 27 hour swim after Tonga tsunami

Source: 1News

A man dubbed the “real-life Aquaman”, after swimming for 27 hours when a volcanic eruption triggered a tsunami in Tonga, has spoken about how his faith kept him alive.

Lisala Folau, 57, lived on the isolated island of Atatā. He was swept out to sea when waves hit the island on Saturday.

He was forced to swim 7.5km to Tongatapu - via two smaller islands - reaching the shore of Sopu at 10pm on Sunday.

“When I was in the water I remember going underwater eight times. My legs are disabled and my disability and my legs don't function as well,” Folau told Reuters.

“I could hear my son calling from land. But, I didn't want to answer my son because I didn't want him to swim out to find me.”

He said the sea kept “twirling” him and sending him underwater.

“On the eighth time I thought, the next time I go underwater that's it because my arms were the only things that were keeping me above water.

“So, I told myself the next time I come up and I can't handle it, that's it. So the ninth time I went under and came up and grabbed a log. And that's what kept me going.”

Folau said he was frightened.

“But like I said, my faith in God overcame those fears and I believe if I was afraid, then what's the use of praying and my belief?”

Marian Kupu of media agency Broadcom Broadcasting, based in Nuku'alofa, told 1News on Thursday that, by the end, Folau was “practically crawling” towards a road so he could be found.

“I saw some scars on him, on his face and his body. He looks very weak given the conditions and everything,” Kupu said.

The New Zealand Government has pledged $3 million to help Tonga’s recovery.