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MODESTO, Calif. — As he headed out onto California’s Lake McClure for a fishing tournament, James Horton saw an animal swimming rapidly through the water. In the early morning light, he assumed it was just a deer going for a quick dip.
But as his boat drew near the creature, he was shocked to see a large mountain lion. Horton said he has seen some land-based cougars in the past, but this was his first aquatic encounter, according to The Tribune. Naturally, he got his phone out to make sure he got some video proof, which he later posted to his Facebook page.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he told The Tribune. "It was really cool to see an animal like that for that length of time."
Horton watched the big cat for two or three minutes, although the video clip is only about 30 seconds long. He said the thing that surprised him the most was how speedily it moved through the water.
"It's amazing how fast he could swim in that long a distance," Horton told The Tribune. He described it as an "Olympic pace," adding that he could never personally swim that fast.
According to Horton, the mountain lion didn’t seem to appreciate human onlookers and made a beeline for the shore. After swimming as much as half a mile in total, it reached its destination and scrambled up the hill, Horton said.
While mountain lion encounters of any kind are uncommon, water sightings like this are fairly rare. Last year, a group of fishermen recorded video footage of a big cat swimming across Flaming Gorge Reservoir.