Whatever happened to the ol' swimmin' hole? A century ago when Passaic and Sussex Counties in New Jersey, and Orange County, N.Y., were far more rural, most communities had a favorite swimming hole, be it a creek, millpond or abandoned quarry. They were within the walking or bike pedaling distance of youngsters in the days before cars and even when dad was the only driver of the family's sole car. During sweltering summer weather, kids of all ages would flock to such swimming holes. If there were a handy tree, someone would climb it and fasten a stout rope, then anyone tall enough to reach the rope would swing out and drop into the cooling waters, swim back to shore and do it all over again. But times have changed. Many swimming holes have been paved over, become excessively polluted, or converted to community-run swimming areas. People also have changed. Jumping into muddy pools no longer has the cachet it did in the days before air conditioning and home swimming pools. Today, many people won't even consider swimming "in anything that isn't chlorinated." Such niceties notwithstanding, residents from throughout the area were interviewed to find out what secret, or not so secret, swimming holes they still head for when the weather gets stifling. "I like Cliftwood Lake because it is so clean and it's never that crowded," says Maryann Gangi of Vernon. "The beach is really nice and clean and they have life guards so it's very safe for the children. The lake also has swim teams for the kids who want to compete. We always have a nice time." "I like to go to Stokes State Park, we usually go camping there. The beach is nice and I feel that it is a safe place for the kids. We love it there," says Cindy Kayhart of Highland Lakes. "I would have to say that the Delaware Water Gap is my favorite because I can take the kids not only swimming but boating and we can have a picnic," says Jimmy Aughenbaugh of Sussex. "The scenery is just great." Running a close second in popularity with area residents is High Point State Park which is a draw for visitors from the Empire and Garden States. "There are not too many natural swimming places around the area anymore but I like to go to the lake at High Point State Park. It's clean and it's not too far away," says Scott Cook of Hamburg. "Myself and my family have enjoyed many, many summers swimming at the lake at High Point State Park. It's really a nice place to spend a summer day," asserts Mike Payten of Franklin. "It used to be Franklin Pond," says Franklin resident Bill May. "I remember summers there when it was packed with people swimming and having a good time. They used to have swim teams and all sorts of activities and on The Fourth of July it was something special. We hope to bring it back this summer. "They are going to start dredging (it)." Don Rumrill of Ogdensburg says: "We go to Heaters Pond which is on Edison Road in Ogdensburg, you can swim and fish and it's really a nice place." "I have been going to Lake Marcia in High Point State Park for over 20 years and I just love it there," says Franklin resident Sally Crabb. "They keep it so clean and there are always lifeguards there during the summer months. Also the park rangers are really on top of things." "Since I was a little kid I have been going to Stokes State Forest and I've always had a good time," says John Wegman of Franklin. The beach is really nice, the water is clean and you can go hiking; it a good place to go with friends." "I enjoy Lake Mohawk, says Simone Delaney. "It's so convenient for me as I live there. When we were looking to buy our house, I fell in love with the lake. My family has a boat, some of us water ski. Lake Mohawk is good family entertainment with special events and beach parties!" "My favorite place to swim is White Lake Beach in Sparta," according to Deirdre Cooke. "It's right around the corner from my home, the spring fed water is clean, there are paddle boats, row boats and canoes we are able to use for no extra charge and there are a lot of children my son's age for him to play with. Plus I get to lounge!"