It is understood the man was at the beach with friends when he disappeared under the water.
Police said swimmers began to search for the man, finding him and pulling him back to shore. Faisal Khan, from Parramatta, was at the lagoon with his family to have a picnic dinner.
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Wollongong has a population of 292,190 residents, making it the third largest city in New South Wales after Sydney and Newcastle, and the 10th largest city in Australia.