Originally Posted by lhowemt
Have you heard back from them?
Yes - the author was still defending his position but is wanting to at least get a dialog going in the statesman so I wrote up a less emotional and more thoughtful response which I will paste here for your critiquing.
When Feet First Kills
When an experienced raft guide or kayaker swims in whitewater he or
she will normally try to self-rescue, usually by using an aggressive
crawl stroke to shore or boat as soon as practical. Commercial guests
and novices, however, are too often still being told by these same
experienced guides to use a passive, feet first swim until someone can
help them. This may work on some rivers, but on many difficult or
continuous rivers it's bad advice that people pay for with their
The rational for feet first is that you can see where you are going,
you can fend off rocks with your feet, and you can eventually make
your way to shore using a backstroke. Initially when getting through a
rough rapid this might be valuable information. The problem with this
technique becomes quickly apparent if the rapid doesn't end anytime
soon, if the current is swift, or if the swimmer is heading for
something bad such as a strainer, sieve or large hole. It's too slow.
It keeps the victim in the water for too long at the mercy of the
current. There are mainly two ways people die in whitewater, the first
is an entrapment in something like a tree or undercut rock and the
second is a flush drowning where the victim drowns in their life
jacket from taking on too much water. The feet first approach is
practically useless in helping the swimmer avoid either of these two
A crawl stroke on the other hand, puts the swimmer more in control of
their destiny. If the swimmer sees something to avoid such as a downed
tree or undercut rock he can swim perpendicular to the current away
from the obstacle instead of directly into a death trap, feet happily
in front. By aggressively swimming perpendicular to the current using
a crawl stroke the swimmer is making his way to the safety of shore
much quicker than someone using a backstroke. The longer someone stays
in the water the more tired and cold they become. The goal of every
swimmer in whitewater should be to get out of the river as soon as
possible. The crawl stroke is by far the fastest way out of the water.
In either case it should be mentioned that feet are up and the swimmer
should not try to stand up in swift water. Other simple precautions
include wearing a snug life jacket and helmet, and matching the skills
of you and your crew with the river you want to run. Anyone serious
about the sport should take an approved swiftwater rescue class.
Give your friends and/or clients a fighting chance if they fall in.
Tell them about the aggressive self rescue swim. It could save their