For the fishermen, the first few minutes after hitting the water were critical. Cold water takes heat away from the body quicker than air at the same temperature. Those that succumbed quickly were probably unable to control the cold shock response. Gasping and panicking, they inhaled water. Friðþórsson, by contrast, managed to control his breathing.
He later described remaining clear-headed throughout his swim. He even chose to get back in the sea to swim further along the shoreline after the cliffs at his first landing spot proved too difficult to climb. The presence of mind to do this probably saved his life.
Finally, Friðþórsson reached a village, and around 7am on Monday morning he knocked on someone’s door. He was later discharged from hospital having been treated for his cuts and dehydration. There was no sign that he had suffered from hypothermia at all.