Swimming Practice???? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-22-2013   #1
 
Flying_Spaghetti_Monster's Avatar
 
Farmington, Utah
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Swimming Practice????

So I am getting into more difficult whitewater where swimming is not only a horrible idea, but strongly advised against. Of coarse I do not plan on swimming (No one ever does), I am wanting to build endurance, and skills to increase my chances of survival if I take a bad swim. So far in my kayaking I have kayaked a good bit of the North Fork, recently after running a long committing rapid I really started thinking about the importance of swimming more. So I know I can do laps in a pool, but that will not prepare me for swimming whitewater. What are good techniques to practice in controlled environments. Any North Fork locals got advice of things around the Payettes that are somewhat safe to swim on to practice big water swims. I heard of a foot entrapment death years ago on the South Fork from someone free swimming whitewater. Not looking for that to happen.

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Old 06-22-2013   #2
 
Blarney, Iowa
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I would think that swimming Staircase rapid on the SF Payette would be the closest balance between a long, hard, brutal swim while still being relatively "safe." That said, as you well know, there is no such thing as a safe, controlled swim... and any time you put yourself in the water there is a high risk of injury or death, so...
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Old 06-22-2013   #3
 
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Bozeman, Montana
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Practice swimming rapids and take a swiftwater rescue technician coarse..

We practiced swimming over logs and down rapids and stuff like that..

Honestly in the north fork you have a better chance of your buds paddling your happy ass to shore...
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Old 06-22-2013   #4
 
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Farmington, Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anchorless View Post
That said, as you well know, there is no such thing as a safe, controlled swim... and any time you put yourself in the water there is a high risk of injury or death, so...
Yeah I do know that. I plan to start slow with ferry swimming across the Main put in. I will be taking my little brother to Alpine soon, and I have swam Lunch Counter before. It is a long swim, but relatively safe. It gets you thinking on how to swim in big water with out dealing with the rocks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caspermike View Post
Practice swimming rapids and take a swiftwater rescue technician coarse..

We practiced swimming over logs and down rapids and stuff like that..

Honestly in the north fork you have a better chance of your buds paddling your happy ass to shore...
I took a Level IV SWR class at the NOC with Jimmy Holcombe. I learned a lot, but I still need to work on technique, and endurance. With that being said you are right Mike there is a slim chance in hell that you would self rescue especially if you were in the main flow of things. I rescued a guy from Juicer my third time down. Juicer is one of the better big rapids to swim, and it still looked horrible. But working on being a strong swimmer could never hurt, would at least help you stay calm.
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Old 06-22-2013   #5
 
Jackson, Wyoming
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I would say lunch counter is a great place to work on swimming whitewater. Yeah, there's always a chance of something bad happening, but for the number of drunk/stupid/PFD less tourists that swim there in a year, there's rarely any real consequence.
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Old 06-23-2013   #6
 
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Denver, Colorado
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Goto kayak playpark ..there are lots of them in Colorado. They are man made and posse a low risk.practice swimming in your local park. Or take a swift water class ..you will learn a lot and get to practice swimming
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Old 06-24-2013   #7
 
alta, Utah
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I agree with with everything that has been posted FSM. Deliberately swimming progressively more challenging sections will help. Lunch-counter, staircase, and various murtaugh rapids were the first places I tried this. Also, practice swimming and other forms of controlling your down river descent using a paddle. Then, take your boat out for short swims too. With the help of friends practice on the river boat re-entry techniques, using your boat as a sit-on-top, and a body board. As a swimmer, I have occasionally used my boat (or paddle) as a "ram" to help pivot me on one side of a rock or another. Perfect your swimming technique with respect to holes, whirlpools, and crossing strong eddy lines. Find a sticky hole and then you and your friends practice roping each other out. This will result likely result in swims w/ entanglement risk at first. With your group, further refine signaling for the various on the water rescue strategies you may want to use. Most of it is developing your own skills/ confidence as you are by far the main one likely to affect a (+) outcome...but, it added to my confidence to know my people were on top of it too. BA
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Old 06-24-2013   #8
 
Lakewood, Colorado
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Like barry said, practicing swimming WITH your paddle will probably help more than just swimming without it. You don't want to train without one only to end up swimming something gnarly, and instinctively let go of your paddle because you've been practicing without one, only to watch it float away to infinity and beyond.

Also, does becoming a better pool swimmer really have much to do with rapid swimming where your PFD is keeping you afloat and you just have to direct yourself?

Third is what all rafting guides have told me and tell everyone in their raft. Keep your feet out in front of you with your head up. If you can keep your toes out above the water where you can see them, your feet will help to deflect off anything that might otherwise trap them. I know this isn't very easy most of the time, but just something to think about.
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Old 06-24-2013   #9
 
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Nampa, Idaho
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I'm gonna go ahead and disagree with most everything in the post before mine.

I don't swim often, but when I do, I immediately abandon my high end Werner and focus on surviving. I really believe that on class 5 (especially when it's continuous and/or roadside) that you should let go of your blades and proactively use your crawl stroke to get to shore.

On easier whitewater I would recommend trying to hold onto your paddle. For class 3 and 4 pool-drop type rivers, the whitewater swim position (feet first on your back) might be a good technique, but for the North Fork, I think most of your swimming should be aggressively on your stomach. Otherwise you simply won't make it shore, ever.

Also, I believe swimming in flatwater and pools is VERY helpful both for technique and endurance. I personally swim laps regularly during the river season. I also enjoy swimming whitewater, I have swam across Staircase and back for training so I think that's a reasonable option for strong swimmers. On the Payette River, I like to go to the "gutter" and swim down each drop catching eddies on each side of the river, trying to ferry across (very tough), and absolutely exhausting my energy until I can't go anymore. All whitewater swimming is done with a PFD and a helmet. In my opinion, these kind of drills are the best preparation you can do for potential class 5 swims.

Not trying to disagree with everything in the previous post, but because this was started as a topic on swimming class 5 whitewater like the North Fork of the Payette, I felt compelled to speak up. On big and continuous whitewater, you need to abandon your paddle, turn on your stomach, and save yourself. That is your best shot at not drowning.

-Micah Kneidl
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Old 06-24-2013   #10
 
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Lincoln City, Oregon
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Great Thread: A fine line between good / smart training, physically and technique driven. Usually practice swimming yearly and refresher courses every 3-5. That being said, I usually swim something once a year and practice self-rescue as a result. Idaho long Class 4's + stuff and West Coast pool & drop Class 5's are not my idea of smart swimming practice. There comes a point, when it is time to get out of the river. That is an individual choice. I can usually find my boat and boat another day !!! $ .02
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