Discuss appropriately techniques for managing strainer, holes and drops
Strainers are deadly obstacles best avoided. When you notice one, decide whether you can quickly swim out of harm's way. If you are holding on a boat, consider pushing off the boat for better cross current speed. If unable to avoid, paddle very aggressively into and over the strainer. Be prepared for quick climbing on branches and avoid the temptation to dive underneath. Trees have snags that can hook onto your PFD or clothing creating a death trap. Just remember, what you don't see can kill you.
Holes can sometimes be avoided or skirted. When you enter a hole, be prepared to go underwater very quickly. To avoid foot entrapment, tuck into the cannonball position. If recirculated, time your breaths for when you surface and be prepared to catch a throw rope if tossed your way. Consider adding some momentum to your next dive to swim out of the bottom of the hole. If that doesn't work, perhaps you can to a break in the hole or one of the ends. Finally, try changing your body shape. Swimmers are generally poor hole bait (unlike some boats). Elongating your body can sometimes cause a hole to reject you. It is also important to conserve your energy and make carefully planned moves to avoid flush drowning.
Take great care going over large ledges. The bottom of these ledges can be foot entrapments. This is where the tightly tucked position is really important. The tucked position also protects the soft portions of your body, especially the face. If recirculated, follow the same guidelines in the previous paragraph on holes.
Aggressively swim a downstream class II or higher whitewater course at least 100 yards long, with multiple ferries and eddy moves
During this class, you will get several opportunities to practice extensive swimming maneuvers. Pace yourself, swimming in turbulent water can be exhausting. Just like boating, you will need to think strategically and plan your short bursts of aggressive swimming. Use eddies, waves, and convenient currents to your advantage. When you catch an eddy, take a breather before making your next move. Unfortunately, this is a skill that many boaters fail to practice these days and it really shows when they get into trouble. For a refresher, check out the following article: Swimming Tactics.
Effectively and repeatedly peel out, catch eddies and ferry. Effectively swim through waves and hydraulics
This is a really fun part of the course. I really enjoy practice swims in class III slalom courses. Picture this as kayaking at water level. Here are some articles that provide some guidance:
- Strategies to conserve energy including positioning, short aggressive position sprints and “porpoising” for in-water scouting
- Defensive to aggressive transitions
- Aggressive upstream and downstream orientation (upstream ferry and downstream eddy catching)
- Crossing eddy lines
- Ferry techniques
- Managing holes and drops
Discuss and demonstrate appropriate techniques for entering rivers
Whitewater entry technique depends on how deep it is. Shallow entries (the most common) use a modified belly flop. Protect your face with crossed hands, arch your to expose your mid-drift where the PFD is located, and bend your knees to keep the feet in the air. Jump out horizontally. Here is a good video on the technique: Shallow water entry. Wherever possible use the shallow water entry technique as it is the safest. If you need to enter water you are certain is deep and have to leap off a high bank, use the same technique used when dropping off a water fall - the tucked cannon ball. This will limit how far you drop below the surface and protect your head and back.
An even safer method that is often available is wading until it is swimming depth and then simply push off the bottom into your swim stroke. As with all entries, scout carefully and set your ferry angle on entry.
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