Big Henry wrote:Surely this would mean no-one would paddle a playboat until they are a very accomplished paddler? On this logic, could you say no one should be paddling white water if there is a chance of swimming? Where, then, does one learn the specific skills for that water (or boat)? I'm sure everyone on here has swam at least once! I know I have, and occasionally still do as I still consider myself to be learning.
You can pick up the basic skills (including turning, support strokes, bracing and rolling) on flat water before complicating it and learning the ww specific skills on top! In my personal case, that's what happened, but I still swam on my first day of ww paddling and my first time at Hurley as I wasn't used to being upside down in ww and didn't have the confidence yet to roll up.
An anecdote... I had my first swim for years this summer (since that time at Hurley, as it happens). It scared me a bit at the time.
Considering it afterwards, I believe it wasn't just a case of my swimming karma catching up with me. We were boat scouting a straight forward looking slide, to all appearances (from above) much like many others we'd run recently, and it would have been hard (but doable) to get out to inspect. There was a blind spot whch I couldn't quite see, which happened to be the hole at the bottom. As it turned out, there were a couple of underwater rocks there backing up the hole into a 2 or 3m towback...
Basically, I made an assumption based on the character of river (mostly bedrock) and previous experience of similar rapids, which turned out to be false, and I was subsequently "unlucky."
Moral of the story? Don't rely on luck- it's not the fault of bad luck when it goes wrong, it's the fault of the bad judgement which allowed luck to take a part in it.
Now, to soften my approach slightly- swimming has to be an inevitable part of the learning process when you're on a steep learing curve. The important skill is in assessing the risk and the consequences, and whether you are happy to accept them. You also need to consider whether the people you're paddling with are happy to accept said consequences.
Happy (and safe) paddling!