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Vermonters advised to avoid swimming holes following major flooding

 The Bolton Potholes flow down rocks into a pool below.
Lia Chien
/
Vermont Public
The Bolton Potholes are a popular swimming spot in Chittenden County, but prove dangerous —especially after heavy rains.

Vermonters are urged to stay out of rivers and streams following this week’s historic flooding that has caused damage to homes and roads across the state.

Swimming holes are a popular way to cool off during Vermont summers, but major rain events make them dangerous.

Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison reminded Vermonters of this danger at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“Regardless of river levels, our waterways are not safe right now,” she said. “The currents are fast, there is a tremendous amount of debris, and folks really need to stay off our rivers for the time being.”

“Regardless of river levels, our waterways are not safe right now. The currents are fast, there is a tremendous amount of debris, and folks really need to stay off our rivers for the time being.”
Jennifer Morrison, Public Safety Commissioner

Richmond Rescue paramedic Sarah Lamb echoed these concerns. She says fast currents, debris, and aerated water make for hazardous conditions.

Lamb reminded Vermonters to always stay out of bubbling or foaming water.

“[This water] can't support a body, so you're not buoyant in that kind of water, and even a life jacket is unlikely to actually help you,” Lamb said.

When swimming in a river or stream, Lamb says to check up and downstream before cooling off.

“It could be really beautiful and placid in one spot, and then just down around the corner be incredibly deadly,” Lamb said.

The Bolton Potholes and Huntington Gorge in Richmond are two popular-yet-deadly swimming holes in Chittenden County.

A Connecticut man died at the Potholes just last week, and a Burlington man died there in May 2022, the first death since 2011 and the sixth in total.

See the Bolton Potholes on Monday, July 10 around 7 p.m. Video by Mark Clement, courtesy.

The Bolton Potholes on Monday, July 10 around 7 p.m.

The Huntington Gorge has claimed 16 lives between 1985 and 2013, according to VTDigger and the Vermont Department of Health.

Lamb says she has not had time to check out these spots since the floods, but is “certain they are incredibly dangerous right now.”

The Health Department says about eight Vermonters die a year from unintentional drowning. You should never swim alone, officials say, check weather conditions, and always enter feet-first.

If Vermonters want to cool off soon, Lamb advises they go to a reservoir or pond instead.

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