Isaac Griffith has walked for the first time since being swept away by a rip current at Siesta Beach near Sarasota.
Doctors also moved him out of the intensive care unit.
The Indiana University football player was on spring break when currents swept him into the Gulf of Mexico.
"He's doing great," said his father, Shannon Griffith, while holding back tears.
He and his wife received enormous support from the hospital when they arrived, he said.
"The people here at the hospital wrapped their arms around two strangers that walked in at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning," he said.
Shannon Griffith credits his son's three friends with saving Isaac's life.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office says Isaac and his friends were drinking alcohol in their hotel Monday at Siesta Beach. After they decided to go swimming, a rip current swept Isaac and friend Mitch McCune out 15 yards past a buoy.
McCune pulled Griffith back to shore. The other friends helped get them out of the water. McCune then started CPR.
"Those three guys saved his life," Shannon Griffith said.
The doctor who worked on the 19-year-old said two to three more minutes in the water and Griffith would have died. His physical condition helped speed his recovery. Griffith is a wide receiver for Indiana University.
"I think he is past the immediate danger. He's awake. He walked a little bit today. He is breathing completely on his own," Dr. Kenneth Hurwitz said.
Shannon Griffith said the prayers Isaac has received from the Indiana University community as well as his friends helped his recovery. Doctors said it will be a few more weeks before Isaac overcomes lung issues related to the near drowning.
He should be back at school and on the football team by the end of April.