Thursday 5 August 2021
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Swimming in whitewater is part of the learning process, however it can be inherently dangerous. The best option is to be in your kayak right way up. That said if you do have to swim, it is worth knowing what to do.


How to swim in white water.

1. First and foremost get into your nose and toes and position.

2. Then actively swim to saftey.


The Nose and Toes position.

Swim on your back and place your feet out in front of you facing downstream with your feet up near the surface of the water. You should have your toes and your nose out of the water. Having your feet in front of you allows your legs to cushion you if you do hit a rock other obstacles and also allow you to see where you are going. Your arms are out to the side to allow you to swim and move yourself while you are in this position. Move yourself away from rocks and other obstacles in the river. Your feet are up so that they don’t get caught in anything on the floor of the river.

Remember always keep your feet up so that there is no chance of you getting a foot entrapment. Foot entrapments can be extremely dangerous.


Active swimming

As soon as you find an eddy that you want to swim towards or if you need to swim hard away from a river feature, roll over onto your stomach so that you keep your feet close to the river surface. Roll over and start to swim in a front crawl/freestyle motion with your head above water so you can see where you are swimming to. You can also bring your legs up close to your chest and roll forward to move from your nose and toes position to your active swimming position.


Top tips

Remember to always keep your feet up close to the waters surface.

If you find yourself swimming in a river, be proactive. It is your job to get yourself out of the river. Listen to the other paddlers you are with they may be able to help you. Once you reach the safety of the river bank help the other paddlers in your group collect your equipment.

Remember this order of importance whenever in or near the water : Body, Boat, Blade. The paddler(s) are the most important things in an emergency or swim situation. Make sure you follow this advice to help you swim safely to the shore. Then, if you can do it safely, rescue your equipment. No piece of equipment is worth getting injured for.

See the river safety section for more information on swimming and how to stay safe out on whitewater


Swimming in Whitewater