I have to admit to a small amount of anxiety when swimming in the lake. You can’t see anything in the water most of the year, so when something brushes past your foot, you might start to wonder if someone let their pet crocodile loose in the lake.
I think our whole family was a bit turned off to swimming in the lake after one incident. My wife and her friend were floating on a raft tied to the dock (our version of boat ownership, it’s much more affordable and no one screams at each other when pulling into the dock). Just off the dock, we spotted a snake swimming straight towards the raft. It popped its head up to look around and then dove under them. There was a lot of screaming and scrambling to get out of the water. I can only imagine the level of panic if the snake had gone onto the raft instead of under it.
The good news is that there aren’t really any creatures in the lake that can kill you. There might be a poisonous snake or two, but they don’t want anything to do with you. There are no alligators in the lake. The only thing dangerous that’s in the lake is the water itself (wear a lifejacket if you aren’t a strong swimmer).
My family is in Australia right now, and our local swimming is in the Tasman Sea. Swimming in the ocean is a whole new thing, particularly here. There are sharks all over the world, and in most places, they’re not aggressive towards humans. We get bull and blue sharks around our beach, and they will be aggressive towards humans, especially in the morning and evening. When the lifeguards spot a shark, they blow a siren to tell everyone to get out of the water. You don’t want to be the last one out when the siren goes off. There are also lots of fish (harmless), stingrays (almost always harmless), octopi (some are harmless and some have enough venom to kill 20 full grown adults) and jellyfish (some are among the deadliest creatures in the world and some you can pick up…it’s hard to tell the two apart).
One of the wonderful things about travel is that it can give you perspective. For example, after swimming here, I will have no reservations about jumping in the lake this summer, even if I spot one of North Carolina’s harmless snakes on the shore. Of course, the bad thing about perspective when you’re talking about deadly sea creatures is, well, the deadly sea creatures; so hopefully, we come back home with just the right amount of perspective.