White water swimming - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-28-2009   #1
 
Cipherion's Avatar
 
Pueblo West, Colorado
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White water swimming

Are there classes or more advanced techniques for white water swimming. I took a swim two weeks back in Shoshone rapids and think there is probably a lot more to it than "toes up layback/swim for your life Charlie Brown." Learning active skills like crossing eddy lines going over a drop, tips for a sticky hole etc. Any thoughts on how to get this skill higher other than the sink or swim technique?

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Old 09-29-2009   #2
 
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Personally I would put alittle focus on staying in the boat rather then what happens when you come out, If your finding yourself swimming alot maybe you should step down the difficulty abit until your skill level improves to a point where you dont have to swim, not to say that there isnt some benifit to knowing how to swim in whitewater, but it all kinda comes.so what Im saying is I guess I would be looking for advanced technics for whitewater boating rather then swimming. For me and I think alot of others the goal is to stay in the craft that you choose. If you plan on not using a craft then disregard everything I have said and I don't know of any advanced whitewater swimming classes, but I know some guys that have alot of experience in that field. Good luck with your search
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Old 09-29-2009   #3
 
Golden, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cipherion View Post
Are there classes or more advanced techniques for white water swimming. I took a swim two weeks back in Shoshone rapids and think there is probably a lot more to it than "toes up layback/swim for your life Charlie Brown." Learning active skills like crossing eddy lines going over a drop, tips for a sticky hole etc. Any thoughts on how to get this skill higher other than the sink or swim technique?
Depending on the water being swam, I typically prefer the theory that says get your a** out of the water ASAP, which means flipping over and swimming for shore. While being on your back is great for your immediate protection, it will also prolong your time in the water.

My guess is that most SWR classes cover swimming. I took an intermediate class a couple months ago, and an hour or two was dedicated to swimming techniques, i.e., eddies, rocks, holes, etc. Not sure if the beginner class spends more or less time on swimming, but the rest of the information is definately worth your while.
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Old 09-29-2009   #4
 
mountains, Colorado
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Originally Posted by rdrouse View Post
Personally I would put alittle focus on staying in the boat rather then what happens when you come out, If your finding yourself swimming alot maybe you should step down the difficulty abit until your skill level improves to a point where you dont have to swim, not to say that there isnt some benifit to knowing how to swim in whitewater, but it all kinda comes.so what Im saying is I guess I would be looking for advanced technics for whitewater boating rather then swimming. For me and I think alot of others the goal is to stay in the craft that you choose. If you plan on not using a craft then disregard everything I have said and I don't know of any advanced whitewater swimming classes, but I know some guys that have alot of experience in that field. Good luck with your search
This is hilarious. After years of boating, I've learned it's quite the opposite. Always be leary of somone who says they are a class 5 boater (usually it means their balls are bigger than their brain). However, if they say they are a class 5 swimmer, then they will end up being an old grey-haired boater. Take a swiftwater rescue class and if you see rdrouse stuck on a rock in the middle of the river and scared to swim, you can lend him a hand.
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Old 09-29-2009   #5
 
Boozebay Harbor, Maine
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Downstream Edge does a ton of swimming in there swiftwater classes.
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Old 09-29-2009   #6
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Originally Posted by brandon_blomquist View Post
Depending on the water being swam, I typically prefer the theory that says get your a** out of the water ASAP, which means flipping over and swimming for shore. While being on your back is great for your immediate protection, it will also prolong your time in the water.
This is great advice! Swim like your life depended on it, which means, get off your back.
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Old 09-29-2009   #7
 
Lakewood, Colorado
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I've taken a couple SWR classes with Mike Mather and he spends a couple hours on swimming, including catching eddies, getting out of holes, swimming over strainers, and when to float vs. when to swim your ass off. Very good stuff and no matter how good a boater you are, we're ALL between swims.
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Old 09-29-2009   #8
 
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i second the comment about Mike Mather, his instruction on this topic is right on. and Mather is not afraid to demonstrate either - he told our class that he was once challenged by some of the "big ball" types in his class to swim dowd chute with them, and he was the only one to actually swim tyson while all the others were on the tracks after only a couple of the big waves in the top.

there is a fine balance between boat vs. swim IMO. my wife took a bad swim a few years ago in Mish Falls, and now she won't allow herself to kayak a lot of CL III because she is afraid of swimming. i know her boating skills are better than her swimming skills, but that swim is now in her head bad. my personal mindset is "i know i can swim anything i choose to boat" so if i am scouting a rapid and am scared to swim it, i might choose to walk that day even though my boating skills are much stronger than my swimming skills. just my 2c on this part.

find a class with Mike Mather and ask lots of questions. some may disagree, but i would say get some practice swimming rapids too. have your buds set safety on tombstone or superstition and take turns swimming those on a hot august day to get a feel for bigger waves and avoiding holes. later.
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Old 09-29-2009   #9
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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A few basic but important things are:

When you cross an eddyline while swimming simultaneously flip your body over. If you are swimming on your back, flip over to your stomache and vice versa. Makes it a ton easier to cross the eddyline.

If you are being recirced in a hole, as you come up to the surface and are about to go back down again, hold your arms out like you are carrying a pile of wood infront of you. You want to grab as much water as possible. This will take you down deeper in the hole and you may have a chance to swim out when you are down deep. This will also take you further downstream where the force of the recirc is less.

Another option if you are stuck in a hole is to start forming the alphabet with your entire body (think YMCA dancers). The idea here is that maybe something will catch and change the hydraulics enough that you will get free.

Also remember that when you are in a hole, the sides are typically not as strong as the center - so head for the sides.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-29-2009   #10
 
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obviously you want to stay in your boat, but I think it is very important to do some class III swimming before you end up swimming class V. As someone who has done both one is much easier than the other. As said above take a swiftwater class, anyone worth the cost will make you swim a lot. Swimming is never "safe" but a swiftwater class will have lots of people around to minimize the risk and make whitewater swimming as controlled as possible. And when you have to swim actively swim to shore. When rivers get steeper and more continuous the whitewater swim position - toes and nose up - becomes a liability. Everybody ends up swimming sooner or later, some just swim more than others.
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