Caroline Tompkins is a phenomenal photographer based between Ohio and New York City. This particular ongoing series is set in Caroline’s hometown of Cincinnati, focussing on under 18 swim teams. However, it’s the familiarity of this series that makes it so captivating. It features shots we can all appreciate, from after school swim lessons, the goggle marks, tight swim caps and foam swimming floats.
Not only is this project relatable but it’s also personal, taken at the swim club where she trained from the ages of 4 to 18, “I wanted to begin shooting this work somewhere I had a strong connection to, not only because of my kindred relationship, but because it allowed me an access to subjects that may have otherwise seemed suspicious. Ohio people are my people, also they don’t really ask questions when some girl from New York comes with lights and an RZ saying she wants to take pictures of their kids for personal use.”
This nostalgic quality to Caroline’s work is also an element she felt whilst photographing, “Going back to those meets and swim practices fills me with the intricacies of being that age and part of a swim team. These meets haven’t changed much – the air is still pregnant with anticipation, the moms are taking it way too seriously, your body is most exposed at its most vulnerable parts of puberty, and hell, kids are still writing ‘eat my bubbles’ on their backs.”
Despite this project’s exceptionally high standard, it is still a work in progress for Caroline who would like to investigate further into the culture that surrounds competitive swimming. This would particularly focus “on the idea of someone’s (especially someone from the middle of the country) greatest connection to water being a pool, like mine before moving to the east coast.” We look forward to seeing where Caroline’s talent will take this series next.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.