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Old 02-18-2016   #1
modesto, California
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 28
Rule of thumb when you have to swim??

Rule of thumb when you have to swim…other than trying to staying calm and not panic

So when the time comes and you have to swim what is the proper way to do this?

Should you go for the kayak/boat? If so how should you hold on to the kayak/boat? Do you keep it on your side or in front of you?

Or do you focus on trying to get to the nearest eddy or closest shore? Leaving the kayak/boat behind

I understand every situation is different but what is your thoughts on this and why?

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Old 02-18-2016   #2
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,207
Generally, you want to be aggressive and get out of the water asap. This isn't always the case. If floating into a large rapid you want to assume the whitewater swimming position (on back with feet up) to avoid injury and foot entrapment.

Hopefully you have paddling partners with you to retrieve your boat. If possible you will want to flip the boat upright immediately and try to hold onto your paddle. The urgency with which you need to exit the river depends heavily on the difficulty and character of the particular river or creek you are on.

My suggestion is to take a swift water rescue course and get trained by a professional.

GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences.
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Old 02-18-2016   #3
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Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 12
lmyers has it right, I highly recommend a swiftwater rescue course. It really depends on the scenario, when I first started all the rapids I would swim on had very large pools to collect myself and gear. On more challenging rivers the first priority is for the swimmer to be okay. After that then you can start worrying about gear.

I've typically found that when paddling with a group if you take care of your own safety eventually someone will grab your gear somewhere down stream.
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Old 02-18-2016   #4
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Bazzaro, World
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,323
When to pull is the question? I guess as said above it all depends. There are some situations where swimming is just not an option and other times swimming early is a must. You have to be aware of where your at. When I'm out in normal class 2 to 3 and I know that the kayaker has made three attempts at rolling before swimming, then I wont come down too hard. Ya need to make at least one attempt.

The better the floation in the boat the more likely you can stay with your gear. But life before gear! If you can swim your boat to shore thats a plus.
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Old 02-18-2016   #5
Arkansas during the off-season Nomadic during the summers! :), Arkansas & Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 945
Rule of thumb...drink your bootie beer!
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Old 02-18-2016   #6
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
I try to self rescue as much as possible. Helps me keep my cool. Always try to stay upstream of your boat, don't get trapped downstream of your boat. If you can't get your boat, at least do your best to hang on to your paddle- sometimes you can use it to help you swim.
I wait to flip my boat over until I'm in a safe spot, otherwise it fills up with more water and is heavier to maneuver, plus when it's upside down it seems a little more stable and makes a bigger platform for you to push around.
Find a spot you're comfortable practicing wet exits and have at it. Self rescues are fun, and your pride will hurt a little less if your buddies don't have to spend the time gathering your yard sale.
And yeah, life before gear. For what not to do (and some lengthy laughs), check out the "bout lost my life today" thread.
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 02-18-2016   #7
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
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+ Swiftwater Class!
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Old 02-18-2016   #8
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 426
I'd say hang onto both paddle and boat until the boat's going to kill you. Then, hold onto the paddle until it's going to kill you. Boat's pretty easy for your buds to see from a distance, compared to a paddle, so if at all possible, hang onto the paddle. As said above, very situational, but if you can truly "self rescue" that's better than your partners having to help, even if they're more than willing.
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Old 02-18-2016   #9
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Fraser, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,038
Plus on the swifwater class, that training is invaluable, and could save your life.
"Like a bunch of monkey's, trying to fuck a football."
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Old 02-19-2016   #10
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Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
Keep a cool head and roll with the punches. Every swim is different. I like to scout stuff as much for a potential swim as for a good line. Sometimes trying to stop will kill you, sometimes you can get out really fast. Keep your keep off of the river bottom, that almost killed me once. I was under a good 2 minutes before I self rescued a foot entrapment. It was class II, no joke. I've landed myself on an island and gotten my bearings and jumped back in to swim down to my boat. I've clung to a few rocks, out of desperation. Don't let go of your paddle. Sometimes practice swimming rapids in controlled conditions is the best thing. I learned by falling out of a ducky and getting my ass kicked. My two big mistakes often were trying to stop myself in the river and letting go of my boat and paddle. If you mean when to pull out of a hardshell, when you run out of air. Chasing hard boats sucks.

Wishing I was on the river instead of surfing the web...
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