Search for swimmer on Tellico Lake 'geared more toward recovery' now

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A search for a man missing on Tellico Lake since Tuesday is now turning into a recovery mission, rather than rescue.

Officials told WVLT the man, Michael Carnock, 55, from Maryland was visiting his parents in Tellico Village when he went for a swim on Tuesday morning at about 10 a.m. around Jackson Ferry Island. The search for the long-distance swimmer began about three hours later at 1 p.m.

The search efforts cover a large area of water that's as deep as 75 feet in some places. Visibility is typically zero to five feet, so that's why officials said air assistance is so helpful. Officials on Thursday said this rescue mission now has turned into more of a recovery mission.

"We're geared more toward recovery right now, unfortunately," Loudon County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jimmy Davis said. "We're always hopeful that he could be somewhere."

Officials believe he was wearing an orange swim cap and he was a very experienced swimmer.

Search efforts continued from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday before they were suspended for the evening. The search resumed Thursday morning. The Blount County Sheriff's Office's dive team that specializes in under water caves is on hand, as well as a helicopter from the Air National Guard, a cadaver dog, and several other agencies.

Carnock's wife and three sons traveled from Maryland to Tellico Plains Wednesday evening, along with some family friends.

In the meantime, officials warned that swimmers in the area use caution when entering the water.

"It's good to make sure you probably have somebody with you because once you go too far under, there's no visibility hardly at all, once you go under the surface," Chief Deputy Jimmy Davis said.

Tellico Lake exists as more than 15,000 acres of water surrounded by 357 miles of shoreline. Dispatch said the man went missing swimming in the lake.

The lake is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, with many neighbors owning property on the lake shore.