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Photo Series: Swimming in Ohio

Caroline Tompkins documents competitive swim culture in her home state with this up-close photo series.

Caroline Tompkins is a NY-based photographer documenting competitive swim culture in land-locked Ohio, her home state. Although she’s probably best known for her photo project Hey Baby, a documentation of men who catcalled her on the street, Tompkins also shoots intimate portraits and quietly strange, sometimes very funny records of American landscapes.

“I’m interested in taking a closer look at the culture behind competitive swimming, as well exploring the utilitarian use of the body when performing a sport,” Tompkins told us. “I swam competitively from age four to eighteen at a swim team in Cincinnati, Ohio called the Beckett Ridge Barracudas. These photos were all taken at that same swim club in the last year.”

There’s a level of irony in this series. Tompkins says, “I like the idea of someone’s greatest connection to water being a pool, especially in a place like Ohio, with no ocean or abundance of natural bodies of water surrounding it.”

And the man with the killer sunburn? “He was a dad that had been in the sun all day for a swim meet. You always see women enduring pain for their kids, felt kind of beautiful to see that in the context of a man.

All of these photos were shot on film because, as Tompkins explains, "I’ve never been a film versus digital debater, but it’s important for me to shoot film for this photo series because the images are born from water. That connection feels very necessary to me.”

See images from the series below and discover more of Caroline Tompkins’ work on her online portfolio, built using Format.

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