Twelve-year-olds Jack Olinger and Christian Pryfogle took a rowboat out on the water to fetch a football, but the wind blew their boat off the beach and far out into the San Francisco Bay.
One man saw what happened and rushed out to help them.
The boys might not have gotten back if not for Nick Tumilowicz, who stripped down to his underwear, jumped into the 55-degree water and swam nearly a mile.
"I'm lucky to be here right now and not in the bottom of the ocean," Olinger said.
"It was a pretty gnarly situation," said Pryfogle.
"They were freaked out and for that 200-meter swim, I was a little freaked out, too, because there was no boat and I was holding their two jackets with one hand and doing the side stroke up to the pier, but we made it happen," Tumilowicz said.
With the eight-foot rowboat sinking, Tumilowicz grabbed the boys by their life jackets, told them to lay on their backs and kick while he hauled them to the closest pier.
That's where they were rescued by a Coast Guard cutter.
The boys were shaken, but survived unharmed.