Swimming in Class IV, and V whitewater - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-17-2010   #1
 
Flying_Spaghetti_Monster's Avatar
 
Farmington, Utah
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Swimming in Class IV, and V whitewater

I am asking this question because luckily I have not had to swim in Class IV or V. So far my brace, and roll has been bomber, and the thought of swimming has not entered my mind while running some of the harder things that I have. I have a feeling that when I do decide to pull my skirt it will be in the worst possible spot. So here is my question. What are some good techiques for swimming in IV, and V water? What are somethings you can do to prepare your self for a bad swim, and what outside of having proper safety can help you get out of the water quickly, and safely. I will say that my main goal is never to swim, but as the podcast says we are all between swims. Thanks for any help or advice.

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Old 11-17-2010   #2
 
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Summit County, and Idaho
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You should look into taking a swiftwater rescue course. I am planning on doing this just to have it under my belt. You will be swimming rapids the correct way and using rescue techniques in the course (from what I am told)
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Old 11-17-2010   #3
 
Denver, Colorado
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Get OUT of the water. NOW.
That's the biggest thing. Don't just sit there and float and wait for somebody to paddle up to you and offer you a grab loop. Don't wait for a rope. Get your butt to shore.
If you're getting maytagged in a bad hole, remember the cannon ball. Ball up, go deep and flush out on the river bed below the hole.
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Old 11-17-2010   #4
 
Denver, Colorado
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Be in excellent cardiovascular shape. Swimming is WAY more work than kayaking. And you will be able to make your breath last a lot longer in the event you have some extended down time.
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Old 11-17-2010   #5
 
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Farmington, Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fallingup View Post
You should look into taking a swiftwater rescue course. I am planning on doing this just to have it under my belt. You will be swimming rapids the correct way and using rescue techniques in the course (from what I am told)
Yeah that is first thing on my list for next season.
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Old 11-17-2010   #6
Don
 
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Swim whiteboy swim!

Go Cheerleaderon it. B> Aggresive B>E> Aggressive.

Don't roll over onto your back and count your toes like they tell people to do on raft trips. Get you head to the surface. Spot your exit route, roll over onto your belly and swim like you were in your kayak. Have a plan before you run the rapid. Scout options and have a plan A, B, C, & D before snapping your skirt on and launching.

Once you exit your boat, you only have one job. Get out of the water.

PS. if you can keep your paddle and boat that would be awesome. But, if they are hindering you, drop'em and get out. Exposure in the water can be for worse than hiking out. Most river drowning come from too much time in the water.
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Old 11-17-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don View Post
Go Cheerleaderon it. B> Aggresive B>E> Aggressive.

Don't roll over onto your back and count your toes like they tell people to do on raft trips. Get you head to the surface. Spot your exit route, roll over onto your belly and swim like you were in your kayak. Have a plan before you run the rapid. Scout options and have a plan A, B, C, & D before snapping your skirt on and launching.

Once you exit your boat, you only have one job. Get out of the water.

PS. if you can keep your paddle and boat that would be awesome. But, if they are hindering you, drop'em and get out. Exposure in the water can be for worse than hiking out. Most river drowning come from too much time in the water.
Thats funny, I think I get the reference. We are crashing, we we are crashing.
Good advice here. As I was told in SWR which stuck with me. Find somewhere you want to be and then go there, now.
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Old 11-17-2010   #8
 
Tucson, Arizona
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I started using this technique as a commercial raft guide when i started guiding class V. With enough people/trips down the river, people will fall out of the boat (or swim out of a kayak), without fail. Better to be prepared than to believe that it won't happen.
Whenever I scout rapids, first I pick a raft/kayak line, then I pick a swim line. When scouting for a swim I look at features and assess which ones i'm willing to send myself through and which ones i'm not. I then choose a line that gets me away from that ONE super nasty feature. Then I make the line as simple as possible (ideally one direction or the other - it is far too hard to make multiple moves while swimming, just not mobile enough). If that swim line takes me through a couple of holes, oh well, it will keep me away from the undercut rock, boxed in hole, etc.
Then I SWIM. Not just casual marco polo swim. I'm talking ate my box of wheaties, got a pep talk from Al Pacino in "Any Given Sunday", and am trying to get away from my crazy ex-girlfriend swim.
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Old 11-17-2010   #9
 
Littleton, Colorado
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I've heard of people using their paddle to help them swim better. I found attempting this to be really awkward. Is that advisable, to practice using your paddle to swim or is it a lost cause, in your opinion?
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Old 11-17-2010   #10
 
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
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A swim strategy depends on what kind of water you are in.

If it's a big volume/wide river scenerio you do not let go of your boat for nothing. It is your floatation and you are not going to be getting out of the water quickly. It is best to hold the grab loop and paddle in one hand and side swim with the other hand ... always jerking the boat forward with the one hand to allow you to gain ground with the swim stroke by the other. Even then, it is best to identify the target down stream that the current will take you towards and time your aggressive effort to get you to the targeted eddy at the correct time. Work with the river. Sometimes that may mean not exerting much effort until the time demands it. Just keep ahold of the boat, relax, and wait for the time to act.

In technical water, as others indicated, it is most helpful to have scouted and know what plan A, B, C, and a swim plan may be. In a creek run it is likely that you sprint swim to the nearest shore. Sometimes, though, you have to make it to the side of an obstical or to a channel and target the next inviting eddy. Although, still trying to exit the water as quickly as possible. I would also add that a technical river can sometimes pin a person to the bottom and require awareness to know that you have to pull yourself along the rocky bottom and out the side of the hydraulic (sometimes the bank or eddy is right there). Often, whether upside down in your boat or out of it, you have got to open your eyes and try to observe what obstacle you might be pressed against and claw your way around and away of it. With probably one exception, it is generally best to open our eyes and try to evaluate before making a decision to pull the skirt.
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