DENVILLE, N.J. - An apparent competition between two friends to see who could swim in an icy lake Sunday ended when one of the men died.

Steve Savare, 36, of Denville, was pronounced dead Sunday evening, about three hours after he and a friend went swimming at Indian Lake, a small enclave about 35 miles west of Manhattan.

According to local police and the Morris County Prosecutor's Office, Savare and an unidentified 37-year-old man visiting him entered the water about 2:45 p.m. in a contest to see who could swim from the shore, under ice, to an open spot in the water and then swim back under the ice.

A neighbor watching the men saw them swim in different directions and become trapped under the ice, Savare about 30 yards from shore and the friend about 6 feet from shore, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said.

The neighbor and a family member called 911, then ran to the edge of the lake, broke through the ice, and tried to rescue the 37-year-old, aided by four township police officers who had responded to the 911 call.

The man eventually was pulled to safety and was administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital, where he was in stable condition yesterday, Bianchi said.

Savare had disappeared, and it took a dive team about 45 minutes to find his body. He was pronounced dead at Morristown Memorial Hospital at 6:15 p.m.

Bianchi called it "a very tragic situation" and commended the neighbors and first responders for their quick action.

"Water and ice rescues are inherently difficult and dangerous, and we are proud of the quick thinking of both the residents and police officers who were successful in performing lifesaving measures that ultimately led to the survival of one of the victims," he said.

Frank Owens, a longtime resident of the lake community, said that a recent warm spell had made the ice too risky for skating.

Owens described the drowning as a tragedy that didn't have to happen.

"I don't know what they were trying to do," he said.