Region's swimming holes fraught with danger for the unwary

WEST HARTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) The recent heat wave and travel restrictions mean more people are likely to hang out and swim in the region's rivers, lakes and ponds. But some of those swimming spots can also prove to be deadly.

"A lot of time when we are swimming down river, you can get caught in the current and you can get dragged down a little," said Kara Wittmann of Hanover. She and her friend dive into the White River in West Hartford. The river is lower than usual but the current remains swift. "We try to stay toward the side so we can easily swim to the edge."

A couple of miles away in Quechee, thrill seekers, like Catherine Parnell visiting from Texas, take the plunge off a popular jumping spot. "To be able to jump off the rocks and the rope swings is really cool and definitely not something that we have around in Texas," Parnell said.

She is spending the summer in Vermont and says she is aware of the dangers that come with the beautiful surroundings. "Well, I never swim alone, that's for sure. I am always with a friend," she said.

"People have to have their head on their shoulders and know what they are capable of and what they are not capable of," said Colin Elsasser of Hartford.

Cliff jumpers expose themselves to obvious additional risks. But swimming near currents can also get a swimmer into trouble quickly said Elsasser, who works as a river guide in the Adirondacks.

"You got things like holes and strainers and trees in the river. The Irene flood that happened a couple years back -- there could be all sorts of rebar and dangerous stuff down there," Elsasser said.

It's good advice that swimmers should keep in mind as they take in all the region has to offer.

"It's awesome to be able to come to this river and it's gorgeous scenery and its cool water on a nice hot day," Wittmann said.

Authorities say it's also a good idea to let someone know where you are going hiking and and when you plan to return -- additional safety measures that can help avert a tragedy.