Originally Posted by DoStep
While this is true, Grand Canyon can also provide a very forgiving rowing experience for someone who can read water and pay attention at all times. ...
The more significant challenges in a GC trip include finding and staying in the current in flat water (especially in windy conditions), the effects that lots of very cold water in a hot desert environment have on your body, getting along with a closed group of people for 3 weeks, keeping your head during an incident with your group or one you may encounter, and your re-entry into civilization afterwards.
You are only a year out, I don't know how many opportunities you will have to get on Colorado plateau rivers. Guide school is good, but there is no substitute for time on the oars. Just get as much time in on the sticks as you can to try to make rowing second nature. But those factors I mentioned will influence your experience more than the actual rowing the boat.
This is a very coveted opportunity, Get half of all this right and you will have the experience of your lifetime. Best of luck on your adventure!
I would second everything said by DoStep. I was one of those people Andy spoke of whose first time on the sticks was on the Grand. Most of the rapids are not that technical, although I've seen rafts flip in "easy" rapids and guys with over 300 trips flip. As the saying goes, any monkey with 2 (well, maybe 3) sticks can get down the Grand.
When you get there, to help get used to the volume, take advantage of the first 8 miles to catch eddies and ferry across the river - but realize as the river drops into the Canyon, the eddies can get more intense.
As was once told to me: Read the water, give it everything you've got, & never give up.