A lobster fisherman is crediting his lifeguard training and safety courses for saving his life.

Nate King is one of three people who fell into the icy Atlantic Ocean on the first day of lobster season on Monday, leaving one dead.

King says he was well aware of the risks that come with the start of lobster fishing. He says everything was going well until an aluminum railing holding the traps onboard snapped.

“I was right at the back of the boat, so when everything started, I fell in middle of the pots,” said King. “The rope, the balloons, the rack, everything was in the water.”

The young fisherman and his Nomada Queen crewmate Wayne Atwood were pulled into the water. They had life jackets on, but were tangled in gear.

“I hauled out my knife and cut what I could,” said King “I could feel myself going back up, so I started swimming and got clear of the mess and my life jacket inflated.”

Then he had to deal with the cold.

“The first thing that happens when you hit cold water is that you go to gasp for air. So I didn't yell, I didn't scream for dad, I just held my breath.”

King says he stayed calmed while deciding what to do next.

“I yelled to Wayne, ‘We got to swim, we got to get back to the boat,’” said King.

Two men were still onboard, including the captain, King’s father, Ricky.

"Wayne was all panicking, so I had to grab ahold of him. Nate was trying to heave him up. Wayne was swallowing a lot of water,” said Ricky King.

They used rope to pull the men back on board. While in the water, Nate King secured the rope around Atwood. 

“I tied the rope around him, then they pulled him up,” he said.

The coastguard arrived along with a rescue crew on a helicopter. Atwood was flown to hospital, while King stayed with the boat.

Before the fishermen went overboard, a 53-year-old fisherman fell off another boat while setting traps. He was also rescued, but later died.

Both boats left this same wharf in Woods Harbour only Monday morning.

“Just thinking of that family. Some people weren't so lucky (on Monday),” said Ricky King.

The crew is now trying to salvage the season. They lost a lot of gear, but know it can be replaced.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl.