CARTERET COUNTY - A drunk swimmer who made a quarter mile journey from the Shakleford Banks to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is only the second person on record to swim the distance and survive.
Daniel Soderberg, 22, was camping with friends last week when he decided to take a midnight dip in the sound after a few drinks. Disorientation followed.
"Around midnight, my friends and I were drinking on the beach, when I found myself in the water. I don't know how I got there, but I knew I was in trouble," Soderberg said.
The Virginia Beach, Va., resident said he saw the beam from the lighthouse and swam toward it.
"I thought to myself, 'Oh, lighthouse, safe place,'" Soderberg said.
After the long swim, the young man could think of only one thing when he stepped on the sands of Cape Lookout.
"I'm alive," Soderberg said. "And I couldn't remember if one of my friends swam with me, so I thought I need to find someone quick."
He found the lighthouse attendant and her husband, who live at the bottom of the historic landmark. The two immediately gave him a warm blanket, for fear of hypothermia setting in.
"The water was pretty cold," Soderberg said. "The couple who got me said, 'you're shivering.' I said, 'OK, I'm drunk I believe you.'"
Park rangers took the man back to his campsite after he was examined for hypothermia. When asked if it was worth it, Soderberg said he has no regrets.
"My friends and I all have a great story, and I have a new nickname ... 'Lighthouse,'" he said.
According to rangers at the Cape Lookout National Seashore, a member of the Marine Corps training for a triathlon is the only other person to successfully swim the channel between Cape Lookout and the Shakleford Banks.
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