Ecology + Justice + Culture in the American South

Tell us about your favorite Southern swimming holes

Tubing in Floyd’s Fork in Kentucky. (Photo courtesy Austyn Gaffney)

There’s something about August. These are the dog days of summer—the haziest, most sweltering, most fleeting. Folks are squeezing in vacations to the beach, last-minute trips to the lake, or camping near a river on warm nights.

It’s getting harder to enjoy summer weather without a body of water nearby. Much of the region has seen prolonged periods of above average temperatures, as well as air quality alerts in part due to wildfire smoke from the West. Here in the South, there are no shortage of places to take a dip, but with a low percentage of public land in most states, plus heavy industry that has polluted most major bodies of water, it often comes at a price.

We’re working on a project about the quest for good swimming holes. To accompany it, we want to hear from you (just like we did with our cicada project at the beginning of summer.) Tell us about your favorite places to jump and wade in the water. And we mean any natural body of water: lakes, creeks, ponds, rivers, that secret place on your great-grandparents’ property. Maybe it’s a childhood memory, or maybe it’s a place you discovered during the pandemic as you tried to escape crowds.

In an effort to better understand our relationship to the environment around us and how it’s changing, we ask you to submit voice memos, photos, and/or stories about your favorite swimming holes. What’s special about swimming in the South to you, and why?

Here’s how you can participate in this multimedia project: 

  1. Submit your reflection via this Google Form
  2. Email a voice memo, photos, written reflections (please keep them brief!) to pitch (at) southerlymag.org with the subject: Swimming 

Submissions close on August 20 at 11:59 p.m. central. Reach out with any questions: pitch (at) southerlymag.org. 

Disclaimer: Submitting photos, voice memos to Southerly through email or uploading to our form grants Southerly permission to use the content if we feature your story on our website or social platforms.