Lakes offer swimmers and water enthusiasts a form of recreation on hot summer days.  While swimming gives you numerous benefits of performing aerobic exercise, following several important guidelines will help keep you safe in a potentially dangerous situation.  You can avoid injuries — and even fatalities — by being prepared before swimming in the lake.

Swimming in inland lakes differs from taking a dip in your local pool.  You often have to share the lake with boaters, water skiers and other recreational vehicles.  Whether sandy or rocky, lake bottoms are often uneven and produce startling, sudden drop-offs into deep waters.  You may have to contend with fish, seaweed and fishing residue such as fish hooks buried in the sand.  Water conditions in lakes can be unpredictable.

Lakes are typically large, wide and deep. Even when there are many swimmers and boaters about, you should never venture out alone.  Always swim with a buddy or in a group.  Be aware of who is in your group and where they are at all times.

Never Swim Alone

Never drink alcohol and swim

  • Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm.

Never chew gum or eat while you swim

  • You can easily choke.

Know your swimming limits

  • Don’t try to keep up with a stronger swimmer or encourage others to keep up with you.  Keep an eye on children and weaker swimmers – if they appear tired, encourage them to rest out of the water.

Swimming off shore or in bays

  • As a general rule it is unwise to swim across bays or known areas of boat traffic.
  • Have a brightly colored flag or float device with you so boaters and other swimmers can see you.
  • Consider swimming with boat cover (having a boat alongside you), particularly if you want to swim further than 100 meters from the shore line.  If you do swim off shore then try to swim parallel to it.
  • Beware of boats using the lake.  Avoid swimming near boat ramps or in areas set aside for boating.