THE SWIMMER who had a very lucky escape when he was rescued after over 12 hours at sea has been identified as viral star Ruairí McSorley.
Volunteer lifeboat crews from Fenit RNLI in County Kerry rescued a swimmer on Sunday night after the alarm was raised by beachgoers who noticed that clothes had been left on a beach at Castlegregory at 8am that morning.
More than 12 hours later, at around 8.30pm on Sunday evening, with the sun beginning to set and the chances of finding the missing swimmer diminishing, the Fenit RNLI crew noticed a pod of dolphins swimming nearby, about two and a half miles from Castlegegory beach where the clothes were found.
Upon closer inspection, they realised they could also see a man's head in the water swimming with the dolphins, and immediately sped towards the scene.
The swimmer has now been identified as Ruairí McSorley, who became a viral star across Ireland over a decade ago when he was interviewed about the 'big freeze' of 2010 and said the famous words "Aw, ya wouldn't be long gettin' frostbit".
As first reported by The Irish Independent, Ruairí is currently recovering at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee, and says he is feeling well after his lucky escape.
Paying tribute to the "incredible" volunteers who saved his life, Ruairí said "they're definitely a great group of people".
"They wrapped me up in the blankets and took my body temperature and everything and then just rushed me into the hospital."
Miraculously, he said he is "100%" after being lost in the water for 12 hours and is only suffering from a pain in his knee.
"The only thing was my kidneys needed to readjust, so there has been no serious harm," he told the outlet.
"It was only a matter of going into the hospital to heat up a bit. Other than that, I was fine."
Commenting on the rescue at the time, Fenit RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Gerard O’Donnell said after a "long and echaustive search", the crew were "overjoyed to sight the missing swimmer in the water. They had been scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried with light fading that they would not find anyone.
"Even at this time of year, the water can be very cold and as, yet we don’t know how long this person was in the water and when they entered it. When the lifeboat crew found them, they were a good distance from the shore and were exhausted."
"We would advise that anyone undertaking a swim lets people know where they are going and when they expected back.
He added that Ruairí was "a very lucky individual."