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How to Swim in Whitewater

One of the important facets of swimming in whitewater is being able to catch eddies correctly. If we're going to try to catch an eddy, one of the things we need to do is try and line ourselves up so that we're going to be cutting across the eddy line at 90 degrees. The easiest place for us to cut across the eddy line is up at the top of the eddy, where the eddy line is not as wide. The eddy lines tend to fan, out or become more like a wedge as we move further downstream.

Finally if we really want to catch the eddy well, we should try focusing on reaching into the eddy and planting our upstream arm into the eddy first. With that, that will pull us deep into the eddy before we end up turning slightly upstream. If we try entering the eddy with our downstream arm first we often run into the problem of spinning directly on the eddy line.

So to catch eddies correctly we want to think of ourselves as that field expedient water craft, just as if we're in a raft, canoe, or kayak we want to line up correctly, adjust your angle so that were 90 degrees to the eddy line, drive across the eddy line nice and high, and really focus on reaching in with our upstream arm first to plant ourselves deep and securely into the eddy.

Swimming is one of our most important rescue skills, and being able to get out of the river might just be a lifesaving skill for us.


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