Where are Newfoundland and Labrador's top swimming holes?

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Summer is all about diversions, and nothing derails my train of thought at this time of year like a swimming hole does.

The mere prospect of taking an outdoor dip while vacationing or following a day’s work is a thrill that launches a front crawl of fantasy or a breast stroke down memory lane.

The daydreams are great escapes from the stuff that normally clutters a journalist’s head — politics, current affairs, breaking news, social media, etc.

And then, there’s actually going for that swim — to dip is divine. It’s always been that way. The Julys and Augusts of my youth were spent underwater, or at least that’s how it now seems looking back.

If anything, that love of being immersed in a summer swim has not only stayed with me, it’s continued to grow.

In my 40s, I find myself driving past lakes, rivers and ponds and wondering about the waters. Is it fit to swim in? Is the bottom rocky, muddy or sandy, or slippery with algae? And, of course, is it cold?

We also continue to be pretty religious about heading to a nearby pond for a dip whenever the weather allows.

I love LaManche Falls, Lawrence Pond, and the man-made beach at Peter Barry Duff Memorial in Paradise. My favourite place to swim is Deer Lake Municipal Park. The sand rivals the Caribbean and the water is as fresh as a mountain spring.

Crabbes River, on the west coast, is where I have the fondest swimming memories. One of them: Dad getting in the water, swimming and counting 14 strokes, and coming to a complete stop.

That’s all he could ever do, 14 strokes, which we thought was quite funny as kids.

But as we aged, we learned and appreciated the reason why. It was horribly sad. While learning to swim as a boy, he and friend were clutching an inflated inner tube. Dad’s buddy lost his grip and drowned. It was 14 strokes to shore and my father made it. A patch of hair on back of his head turned forever grey that day and he could never paddle a longer distance.

Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, none of my swimming experiences have been as tragic.

My memories are magical, and I crave more of them, especially since I have kids of my own and their knowledge of swimming focuses too heavily on heated municipal pools.

I want them to swim outdoors as much as I did and to enjoy it as much as I do.

To help make that happen, I recently sent out a tweet asking where the best swimming hole was in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I received a lot of response, like Leech Brook (near Grand FallsWindsor), Shallow Bay (near Cow Head), and Lumsden, which looks better than beaches I’ve paid thousands of dollars to visit.

The goal is to take my family swimming in as many of those places as possible.

It’s just a fun, little plan, a break from the day-to-day routine and pressures.

It’s something we all need, and take it from me — there’s no diversion like a swimming hole.

 

 

Email Steve Bartlett at sbartlett@thetelegram.com. On Twitter, he's @TelegramSteve.

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