Taran Tyla wrote:I don't think it was dangerous at all as we were all very experienced & comfortable in the conditions with the exception of the swimmer (no disrespect to him). In fact is was bloody good fun out there & an opportunity for the swimmer to build his experience with 5 other paddlers all perfectly capable of looking after him.
The thread has moved on a lot since the reply I lost this afternoon, but I more convinced than ever that I need to draw your attention to this bit for you to reflect upon (and not for me to pass judgement, although of course I have because we all do).
Something in that snippet suggests to me that your leadership toolbox is missing something, I think the something is empathy with your least able (or just unlucky) group member. It is not just empathy that is required, but empathy using an experienced pair of eyes. Your swimmer may have been quite comfortable in freezing cold water in a serious tide race, but that may have been down to not really understanding how serious the situation was, which is where the leader needs to be able to view it from their perspective, but using their own knowledge and experience to extrapolate outcomes and understand better than the lesser paddler what the issues are.
All I ask is that you consider that and see if you really still believe it was all OK.
To my mind there are 2 primary rules to sea kayaking:
1) No swimming
2) Refer to rule 1.
To me having someone take a swim would change everything, because I have been out in some fairly hairy conditions with a range of abilities, and I have never yet had anyone take a swim. If people started swimming in a group I was in, I would naturally think things were already on their way rapidly downhill. I know that's not quite what I said about Mikes report the other day, in that I pointed out that we sometimes find we have a difficult choice and make what in hindsight we might consider to be the wrong decision - been there, done that, fortunately we never had any swimmers. Thinking about it this week, I am more sure that a swimmer would have guided me to correct decisions because I abhor the concept so much.
So. I don't think it was in any way your fault that the situation came about (too much pressure from an over ambitious assessor?), you, in fact most of the group, clearly have a high degree of skill and would probably be a great person to have along on a trip. But, I'm not necessarily sure you have the right attributes for a 5* if you really think all that was good fun and not serious and I would urge you to do some serious soul searching before you set up your business to make sure it is the right thing for you, and you are the right person for it.
It probably doesn't take the edge of my message at all, but I have a list of people, from my white water days, and some of them very very good at it (others not so) whom I would paddle with any time, yet I would tell a beginner or perhaps even intermediate paddler, never to paddle with, or whom when I was involved with a club I would never have allowed to lead a group. For the most part it is simple lack of empathy for other people in the group, in some cases it is clearly "I find it easy why don't you?" which I think is way more extreme than you have come across.
My own position? Well I stopped coaching when I realised I had lost the empathy, it was the secret to being a successful coach as far as I was concerned, without it coaching seemed pointless.
I wish you every success, and I don't believe it was your screw up that is being discussed, I just have one niggling concern about your take on the thing. I might have read it wrong, and if so feel free to ignore me.
I think I might start a thread with a story of my own.....