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Old 05-01-2013   #1
Cleveland, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 13
Major rolling anxiety.

First off, sorry for the lengthy post you guys! I am an extremely green beginner and I'm just seeking advice.

I've been taking my boat to the pool and trying to get my roll down before I head to the river. I've rafted white water and used inflatable kayaks with no issue at all, but the thought of being upside down in my river runner absolutely terrifies me. My boyfriend has been teaching me (he's an experienced white water kayaker and river guide) and I've watched tons of videos about it. I can get myself underwater fine, but once I do I just panic and pop my skirt without even thinking. This causes me to not want to go underwater at all and it's just a bad time all around. I really want to enjoy this, and I love being on the water, but being under it just isn't my cup of tea. Any advice?

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Old 05-01-2013   #2
Jackson, Wyoming
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 276
Do you wear goggle and especially nose plugs? Big help in getting comfortable. Maybe start by extending the time you hang upside down before getting out, without even worrying about the roll. Try to build confidence in the being upside down part, before you even worry about the roll.

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Old 05-01-2013   #3
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
A couple of things.

There is nothing wrong with paddling inflatables. Many people with an aversion to being upside down underwater paddle inflatables, have a blast and don't get worked up about not being in a kayak. Which brings me to my next point.

Your boyfriend probably wants you to kayak and is putting a certain amount of pressure on you to perform. If you really want to give it a go, my advice is find someone else to teach you and some other people at YOUR level of paddling to go out/practice/learn with.

I've got some specific techniques I would try with you in a pool setting to see if we could get you more comfortable with things but to me the biggest question here is motivation.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 05-01-2013   #4
rivervibe's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 379
Firstly, welcome!
Secondly, this is not at ALL lengthy... just wait.
Thirdly, don't get discouraged. This is actually very common when getting into kayaking. In fact, those that have the hardest time with this issue are folks who have already spend a good amount of time in IKs or OC1s.

Here are some ideas that have been useful to some people I've taught:
Wear nose clips. The water up the nose is a huge trigger for just about every body.
You've shown that you can exit the boat already, try rolling over and just hanging out for a few seconds (with nose clips) without the skirt. A lot of people have an unconscious claustrophobic reaction to the feeling of the skirt holding them in the boat.
Preferably with the skirt, give yourself some simple tasks to perform before you wet exit. Roll over planning to exit, but bang on the boat and wave your hands out of the water first, or sit back and try to lay back on the back deck before you come forward to pull out...
Try wearing goggles and looking around under there...
The idea is to get to where you can simply wait and perform a simple task calmly before you attempt a roll.

I hope something in here helps! Hang in there!
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Old 05-01-2013   #5
Cleveland, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 13
The last time I practiced I was able to get fairly comfortable with being underwater, but then once I began trying to roll I started to feel uncomfortable once more. Even though I know I'm in a safe setting and I'll be okay even if I have to swim, I still psych myself up about it. I know that this is the reason a lot of people give it up, but I don't want to do that.
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Old 05-01-2013   #6
Cleveland, Tennessee
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 13
Rivervibe - Thanks for the welcome! I've never even thought of trying flipping without the skirt. I am a pretty claustrophobic person so maybe that has something to do with it.
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Old 05-01-2013   #7
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carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
what glenn said. Unless you are truly motivated to do it for you then you will have a bad time. To get that motivation you may have to go paddle and get your first surf even if you swim with no intention of rolling. Once I surfed I was hooked.

If you wish to 'conquer' your fear so to speak then you have to come up with some strategies to do this. Not just tough it out.

#1 - practice holding your breath. this will help you minimize your fear of drowning.

#2 - Get a dive mask ( I did) or goggles or something so you can slow down and see exactly what it is you are doing. The nose plugs could really help too. A part of your brain is programmed to make you fight to get out of the water. Kayaking and rolling goes against all of this. Your fear underwater is just the body saying 'let's get the F out of here'.

#3 - I also have used a snorkle plugged into the spray skirt so I could hang out and breath underwater for a while. It sounds gross but it was a while ago and I don't any long lasting side effects.

#4 - Hip snap, hip snap, hip snap - on both sides until you have abs of steel. Believing in your hips more than your paddle will help your confidence too.

So everything you are doing is trying to overcome the body's natural fear of expiring. This is healthy. If controlled. Some of the things above are more ammo for the brain to convince the body that 'I've got this'.

It's not for everyone. But maybe this helps.
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Old 05-01-2013   #8
Rainy Northwest, Washington
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 460
Practice holding your breath on the couch you should easily manage 45 seconds. then practice holding it for 10 seconds upside down before trying to roll or popping the skirt .
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Old 05-01-2013   #9
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
Find some cool boater chicas to work with.

Someone's SO is the wrong person to coach one on ANYTHING!
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Old 05-01-2013   #10
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
As far as holding your breath, a nose plug should help. The mammalian dive reflex, without a nose plug, is probably what's triggering your panic. Practice floating face down with a nose plug on, and even swimming in full kit. That might help.

On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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