It is soooo exciting to see so many new faces out exploring paddlesports in western Canada – a wonderful silver lining from the pandemic!
Paddlesports are a fabulous way to get outside, get active and enjoy nature with friends and family.
With all the new paddlers out and about, American Whitewater and NRS put together a great information package to help people be their best selves on the water and help protect, restore and maintain access to our rivers: Paddle Wise.
A key part of paddle safe, paddle smart and paddle prepared is taking the time to learn about being on or around moving water.
A great starting place for this is to participate in a Swiftwater Rescue Course, where expert instructors will teach you about hydrology and how moving water works as well as give you the tools and techniques you need to make good decisions and to rescue yourself and your friends if something goes wrong.
AQ Outdoors provides industry leading instruction, including swiftwater rescue, on our AQ Outdoors Courses Page.
There are several organizations that provide these courses across western Canada if AQ Outdoors is too far out of your range. The entry level course (Swiftwater Rescue Technician 1) is all about establishing comfort and confidence in moving water. Be prepared to spend good chunks of time working and swimming in the water, learning about how to mitigate hazards and develop a strong toolkit of personal safety skills by the end of the course.
One of the things that I love about paddling is that it is a lifelong learning sport. Thanks to Rescue Canada’s donation to the BC Whitewater fundraiser earlier this year, I recently got to participate in a SRT Level 3 course with Chris Armstrong of Kootenay Swiftwater. It was three days of jam-packed learning and I came out of the course with validation of the skills I already had and many new learnings and skills that left me feeling more confident about spending time out in moving water.
One of the biggest learnings for me was a new technique that Chris taught for how to get unstuck from a log. I have always struggled with the traditional teaching of launch yourself over the log on your front while moving downstream as I’m just not that strong and it’s awkward with a lifejacket on. This concept of pushing off from the log and then getting to a standing position where you can walk off the log was a game changer for me. It is significantly easier than it looks and left me feeling empowered with a realistic option should I end up in this situation.
Whether you are new to the river, or have been around for a while but are maybe getting a little laid back about your safety skills, then I really recommend considering how to gain some knowledge that will allow you to paddle safe, paddle smart and paddle prepared!