Some lessons learned from a swim.

Inland paddling
Post Reply
User avatar
DaveBland
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary Canada
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by DaveBland » Mon Oct 02, 2017 5:54 pm

Some lessons learned from a swim

There’s something incredibly humbling about having a bad swim. Yes there’s the realizing the river’s the boss, however much control you think you are in – but more in recognizing the support from those paddlers around you – some of whom you may not ever met before.

So yeah, this Saturday I took a dip on the Spillimacheen River in BC. It happens – I was due one, it’s been a couple of years. But this one was different. I’ve had other bad swims over the years, but with those, although I’ve had other paddlers around, I’ve played a part in my rescue. With this one apart from the single act of keeping concious/breathing there was very little I could do.

Learning point 1
I was going to and should have got out and inspected. I hadn’t been paddling much and although I know the river I should have refreshed the line in my head. The reason I didn’t, was that I wasn’t paddling that confident and wanted the boost that running a drop blind would give me. Yeah, wrong move.

The how and why I ended up swimming aren’t important, but I ended up in a swirly eddy/cave combo on the end of a rope. In my keeness to cling onto the line I didn’t run it to the end, so there was still slack line behind where I was holding it. The slack wrapped itself around my leg, meaning that I couldn’t climb up the rock wall to get out the water [and get air] and I couldn’t let myself follow the current back upstream to the top of the eddy. I was caught in limbo unable to get enough breath to free the line from my leg.

Learning point 2
Check your BA. Mine was a few years old and I'd been kinda thinking of getting a new one. Do it. Even those extra few mm of floats make a huge difference when you haven't got them.

Learning point 3
When holding a line, it’s worth letting it run to the end so you are holding the bag end if you can. That surplus line behind you is a hazzard.

I’m not sure how long I was in the cave. It felt like 5 minutes, it could have been way more or less. Either way, Ethan who bagged me super quick, but on his own couldn't easily pull me in.

Learning point 4.
Not always possible [as in this case], but if setting up safety, remember that it is WAY better to have two bodies to hold a line. Swimmers are heavy and footing is often precarious.

Things that went right.
The incredible support from the group. Ethan not only pulled me out and sat with me while I spewed up water and couldn’t stand for 10 minutes, he pulled the boat out and stayed right by me all the way out the canyon.
I had never met Ethan before.

Sean and Jason who carried my boat up an incredibly shitty walk out of the 500ft canyon for me, the whole group deciding to abandon their paddle and boats and lead me up to the road to make sure I was okay, before walking back down to continue.

Learning point 5.
I thought I knew the way back. I was saying I was fine to hike out and believed it. They had the wisdom to know better. In hindsight I wouldn’t have found the road. It could have got ugly. Believe and trust your group.

So thanks again to Sean, Jason and Ethan. I will do my utmost to pay it on. I owe you guys.

Paddle safe.
dave

Colin C
Posts: 740
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:19 pm
Location: Bothwell
Been thanked: 7 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Colin C » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:04 pm

Thanks Dave thats helpful to hear and to have a prompt to think things through again, I am glad that it all ended well and thanks for sharing those hard learnt lessons.

Colin

User avatar
Adrian Cooper
Posts: 9720
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 2:26 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:07 am

Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you are OK.

I picked up on your point about sitting for 10 minutes and how you reacted afterwards. I recently invested in a little kick scooter, the sort commuters use, I take the dog out with it and he enjoys running. The other day I went out late and underestimated a kerb, the front stopped and I went over the handlebars, landing on all four corners. I wasn't far from the house so I walked back, sat down on the sofa and found that the telly wouldn't stay still. I quickly worked out that this was a result of 'shock', the medical term. So I lay down to ease the reaction on my blood system and it was a full 20 minutes before I felt fine. I've learned this in first aid courses but when it happens, it is quite surprising.

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13889
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 41 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Jim » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:54 pm

Yes, shock, adrenaline, exhaustion, cold - until you have had a bad one it is difficult to understand the effect of these.

My worst was in 1994, broached on debris in Dora di Rhemes - I have no idea how long it took the guys to set up the hauling system to release the boat pressure on me and get me out, they were slick but it takes a long time to rig. I had my right arm out straight braced on the river bed and my left arm on the submerged piece of rock or concrete the boat had slipped under and my head out of the water (no idea how far, probably not much) for a long time after initial attempts to wriggle off just made the boat settle lower.

When they got me to the side I was probably high on adrenaline - the water was glacial but I wan't bothered by cold. I didn't even want to sit down and rest, and I think I had to be convinced that I wasn't getting back on again. It was only when they walked me to the car (which was not far as this all happened within sight of a bridge) and I realised I couldn't walk in a straight line that I began to realise there might be something wrong... Luckily we had a shuttle driver that day so the car had followed us and I wasn't left alone whilst the others finished.

One thing is for sure, if anyone takes a bad swim or other bad accident, definitely don't leave them to make their own way out, they probably won't know it, but they might be pretty doolally!

User avatar
scottdog007
Posts: 1317
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:34 pm
Location: Hertfordshire.
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by scottdog007 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:25 pm

Finding out how sh!t the people you are paddling with are, who are clueless to how to rescue you. And then to find they have never done a rescue course before and you are in big water in Scotland or the Alps.

Now after paddling many years I can tell immediately what to expect from a team. But when I started out; I had some tosser shouting at me to let go of my boat (boat was giving me great buoyancy), doing so and catching the throwline to find the tosser has let go of his end. Another dick comes out in his boat, paddles past, leave me and chases my boat. I'm left for 5 minutes on my own going down grade 3 and 4 waters (alps).

What I learnt from that? Learn how to 'self-rescue' yourself. Sure hold onto your £300 carbon paddle, but use the paddle to swim with, you get great leverage, more speed and distance.

User avatar
DaveBland
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary Canada
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by DaveBland » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:18 pm

You are right that the group you paddle with is everything.
But self rescue isn't always an option. It sometimes comes down to the actions of others.
dave

dm1756
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:06 pm

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by dm1756 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:20 am

Its been such a long time since my last swim that its starting to become an issue and make me more nervous on the days where I push my limits... you'd think it would be the other way around but its almost like I need to take that swim to remind myself it will probably all be fine.

User avatar
DaveBland
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary Canada
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by DaveBland » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:48 pm

Yeah I reckon that's a pretty common feeling.
The trouble is you can practice swims in a safe environment but they just get you better at swims where you'll be alright anyway.
It's the unpractical ones to practice, that you need the practice for.
dave

Joe L
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2005 9:19 pm
Location: Battle
Has thanked: 1 time
Contact:

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Joe L » Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:10 am

That dosen't sound fun. Glad it worked out ok in the end. It is pretty shocking how useless you become after a big swim/incident once the adrenaline wheres off.

One thing I have picked up is if you are running something bigger with set safety is to tell your safety team what your rough plan is if something goes wrong and what you want them to do/try to do and what you think you will try and do.
It sucks if someone chucks you 20m of rope in a hole you could happily surf out of and it also sucks if they sit and watch you get beaten in a hole you cant surf out of for 2 minutes before throwing you a rope when exhausted.
So make a quick plan with them beforehand e.g. if I go in that hole im gonna swim straight away or if I swim down here ill try and make that eddy on the right.
Just a little bit of planning can make carnage a lot smoother.

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6275
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by morsey » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:15 am

#Beater

User avatar
DaveBland
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary Canada
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by DaveBland » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:59 am

#Beaten
#whythehelldoIwantmore
dave

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6275
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by morsey » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:09 am

Swimming = type 2 fun

User avatar
scottdog007
Posts: 1317
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:34 pm
Location: Hertfordshire.
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by scottdog007 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:06 am

Joe L wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 11:10 am
........... One thing I have picked up is if you are running something bigger with set safety is to tell your safety team what your rough plan is if
A perfectly example for me where this went wrong but was funny. On the River Orchy some years ago we put on safety on a rapid with 3 people with throw lines plus a plan of live bate if need be, people paddled this rapid one at a time and if they didn't get their approach correct they would go into the crease of the rapid and get a real beating.

Sickly but also amusingly 3 people got a beating. One of these was very experienced. He did many rolls while stuck in the crease, then got flushed out. He had lost his paddle but was still planning to handroll, so did loads of attempts. No one expected him to do this so every time he came up a throwline was sent to him. He succeeded doing a handroll and he had 3 throwlines across his boat. He angrily shouted he didn't want throw lines but a paddle. A paddle was thrown to him and he disappeared down a series of grade 4 rapids looking for his paddle.

I laugh now when I think of this.

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13889
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 41 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Jim » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:10 pm

Don't underestimate the usefulness of a chase boat - it wouldn't have helped in Dave's case (although maybe useful if he'd have let go of the line before getting to the eddy) but I'd say that more than 90% of the time 'rescue' is collecting a swimmer that has already flushed, and for that a chase boat is often the best option, unless it is too dangerous for chase boating.

Having seen someone have to pull out of a competition because overzealous livebaiter jumped on him trapping his hand between paddle and boat and injuring it, in a place where he was already out of the flow and only a stroke or 2 from knee deep water* I worry more than ever that some people use the serious last resort techniques far too readily.

*I swam and self rescued there before the competition when there was no safety cover - it was easy.

Whitey1
Posts: 439
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 6:13 pm
Location: Pyrenees
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Whitey1 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:31 pm

Morsey [Swimming = type 2 fun[/quote]

Disagree. Swimming = Type 3 fun. NOT fun at the time, NOT fun looking back on it either.

User avatar
DaveBland
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm
Location: Calgary Canada
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by DaveBland » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:59 pm

Couldn't agree more on the having a plan with setting up safety. I've ranted on here many times about standing on the bank with a throwline chatting and how that's not safety.
It's for the paddler to say where they want the safety set and to establish signals and circumstances for deployment.
And if there's a chance lave bait may be used, set it up ready. Not fumbling around working out who's doing what like a bunch of England footballers at a penalty shootout.
Last thing on live bait. Agree a timescale for pulling the jumper out – especially when it's likely you won't be able to see them.
dave

Nessa
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:00 pm

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Nessa » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:25 pm

The posts on this thread make for some very interesting reading. DaveBland your honest reflection and identification of learning points is refreshing food for thought to help us all. Honest reflection is key here and it is very important to always be honest with team members about your abilities; as Joe L states about having these conversations before so that plans can be made.

Scottdog you mention when you “started out”, so is this what you told the team that you are referring to? Or did you actually arrive on the friends and family trip stating that you were a “four star paddler” and did not require any help on this particular river? Honesty about ability enables a team to plan appropriately.

If a person throws a rescue line to you, accurately, despite slalom course ropes and wires, so that it reaches you then surely that is to be commended? However, if although you catch it you continue to hold onto a large loaded kayak and paddle, in rushing Alpine water, despite calls to let go, a person is unlikely to be able to hold it. Does that make him a “Tosser”?

It is appreciated that it is not always possible to save yourself and that is true. However a team might expect a “four star paddler” to have come to the shore while there was plenty of opportunity.

LEARNING POINT – Always be honest about your abilities before paddling

When you finally float closer to the shore and let go of your boat to swim in and a person paddles past you, checks you are ok and then sets off at speed to rescue your boat does that make him a “Dick”?

The people you appear to be referring to are experienced paddlers with many years’ experience and yes, rescue courses (and updates) behind them. They have been involved in numerous successful rescues both for people they are paddling with and others that they have encountered in difficulty that they come across. They walked you back from the river, the importance of which is discussed on this thread, to the care of your wife. They rescued all of your equipment and carried it back for you. They checked you over, you were a bit shaken but able to walk well and talk in complete sentences. The first aider checked you and remained at camp with you and your family for the remainder of the day as a ‘just in case’. You continued to paddle with the group for the rest of the stay.

Scottdog you have paddled with them numerous times since this incident. I am not sure why you feel a need to write such vitriolic things on here rather than discussing it with them?

LEARNING POINT – Always discuss the swim with the team afterwards to check if your version is correct and consider what could be done differently in the future

Girdles
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:37 pm

Re: Some lessons learned from a swim.

Post by Girdles » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:18 pm

Who is Dick & Tosser 😂😂😂😂

Post Reply

Return to “Whitewater and Touring”