Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Swimming Lessons

Ocracoke is surrounded by water...but it's not always easy to learn how to swim here. The ocean is a great place to enjoy body surfing, boogie boarding, surfing, or just wading and playing. But it is difficult to learn to swim there. Years ago, when Silver Lake was cleaner, all of the children dove and swam off the end of the docks, or in the "ditch" (the narrow channel connecting the harbor with Pamlico Sound). For many years the Coast Guard allowed passage through their property, to a sandy beach on the edge of the ditch. Those options are no longer available to island children.

Lachlan is lucky to have two lifeguards, Travis & Ashley, who have access to one of the island swimming pools, teaching him to swim. Lachlan is so comfortable in the water, that part of their job has been to teach him a healthy respect for deep water. He has never minded putting his head under water. In fact, he swims like a seal under water. But now he is learning to execute a strong kick...and learning rhythmic breathing.

We are all more comfortable on docks and around boats. Every week his skills improve. Many thanks to Travis and Ashley!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of the Night Blooming Cereus Cactus. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Definitely peace of mind knowing that Lachlan and other Ocracoke children will learn the skills they will need to master the unpredictable ocean surf.

    I'm glad to hear this news, Philip!

    Hats off to the two, dedicated lifeguards!!!!!

  2. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Years ago when Silver Lake was cleaner!! How much uncean is it ??what has contributed to the uncean nature? Sheer numbers of people visiting thus generating more trash, boaters throwing trash into the Lake and waterways?? Is there not a river keeper patrolling the surrounding waterways to maintain the integrity of the water-- the aspect that draws folks to the island --- I am shocked otherwise.

  3. my granddaughter learned to swim in the Pony Island Motel pool 14 years ago.

  4. debbie s.5:47 PM

    my son (now 5) has NO FEAR of the water. He had swim lessons last year, before i had a heart attack!

    now hes my little surfer boy ;)

    and i breathe much easier ;)

    glad to hear Lachlan has learned the ropes and continues to learn more! I think basic swimming skills is something EVERYONE should have!

  5. Anonymous11:14 AM

    An olympic swimmer attempted to swim 101 miles from Havana Cuba to the Florida Keys this week. Do these children understand rip tides?

  6. Anonymous2:14 PM

    A 12-year-old member of a church group rescued from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of washington state. Pulled into a rip current -- the photo is chilling.

  7. We have film of my brother and I diving off a dock into Silver Lake with my parents back in 1956 and before the bulkheads were installed. We both learned to swim in Silver Lake

    It is too bad that pollution has made it unsafe to swim there.

  8. Sue O'Neal11:45 AM

    We also need to remember that the Ocracoke Youth Center has provided swimming lessons for many years to Ocracoke youth and vistors alike. For over 10 years, Jennifer Garrish taught island children basic swimming lessons for all skill levels. The Island Motels generously donated their pools for these lessons. Another loss for our island children with the demise of the Youth Center.

  9. I don't have any technical or scientific information about the water quality in Silver Lake, although I do know that studies have been conducted recently. I believe most of the issues involve the high number of live-aboard boaters who use the harbor, especially in the summer months. I don't know of any public pump-out facilities. If there are any, perhaps one of our readers will share that information. Another issue is that Ocracoke does not have a municipal sewage treatment facility. In addition, a number of private systems, particularly near the water, may be old and inefficient. Silver Lake is not noticably polluted with trash or other floating debris. I am just sure that it is not as clean as it once was. I don't recommend swimming in the harbor, although I sometimes see people swimming there.

    Ocean-side rip currents can be dangerous. The National Park Service, motels, rental agencies, and other local businesses routinely share information about rip currents. Proper information helps make ocean swimming safe and enjoyable.

    Sue, thank you for the reminder about the Ocracoke Youth Center and their many contributions to the young people of Ocracoke. Many thanks, also, to Jennifer and local motel owners!