If there is a second season for paddling in the midwest, it takes place in pools. Some sessions start in the fall others in winter and still others in the spring. Common to all is people rolling. I’ve even seen canoeists there rolling in canoes rigged for whitewater.
Locally in Marquette we get two hour sessions 2-4 times a month. I’ve found these to be very valuable, in fact my skills would not be at the level they are without pool time. Repetition makes a skill second nature, a reaction instead of a thought process. Reacting to a capsize motion with a brace or a capsize with a rescue, will happen faster and have higher chance of success than if you had to think through the process. This happens because practice burns it into you and at pool sessions you have time to practice.
So I was surprised when a blogger commented they were bored at pool sessions. Really? Rarely can I get to everything I want in the pool sessions, even when they were every week. Below breaks down the pool sessions and different goals for different parts.
A big big reason for the sessions. Rescue practice makes sure I am ready to go in the spring by having a backup to the unexpected happening. I cover paddle float and T/Tx rescues primarily as well as Eskimo rescues.
This is what most think of when thinking of heading to a pool click here.
Rolling on both sides
This what most want after the pool season, a roll on both sides click here. This takes practice. Once you have that, push on towards a more advanced roll as you see Nancy doing Angel Wings for the last two.
So you got a roll you can do on both sides, stress test it click here. Do repeated rolls, once you come up go into setup and capsize on the other side. This will stress your technique, your boat fit and your fitness. It is getting close to what it is like to have to roll multiple times for real.
Half paddle roll
Take away some of the leverage – click here. Roll with only half of your spare paddle. Got that down? Store the half where you normally do, for me its the front deck, then capsize, pull it out and roll. This is realistic to what one could do if you lose your own paddle.
Another stress test click here. Take your paddle, throw to the side. Capsize and swim with your boat to the paddle, grab it, setup and roll. This will stress getting a proper hand placement, proper setup and your fitness as the farther the paddle is away, the more your lungs will be bursting. Closest I’ve found to what it is actually like when you get knocked over in replicating setup and lung capacity.
Re-enter and roll
Re-enter and roll click here. This is what you need to have in advanced surf, rock gardens and places where an assistant rescue/any other rescue takes too long. You end up with a boat full of water but there is a balance exercise to get ready for that. That is also why I have a foot pump.
Hand roll practice click here. Rolling without a paddle is an advanced skill. Practicing it helps to build your hip snap which helps to strengthen your roll. Practice as seen in the video using a small float, a throwing stick, etc helps build this skill and hip snap.
Rolling with a swimmer on the back
And finally, a fun way to stress test your roll click here. Rolling with a swimmer on the back deck will stress test your technique and boat fit. It is also practical in case you capsize when rescuing a swimmer.
I started this in the pool to bring my paddle stroke modeling up to par in preparation for instructor workshops. I’ve found that my early season boat handling in wind, waves and surf improved as well making this rewarding for the recreational paddler to practice as well.
Forward, reverse & stop
The classics for an instructor click here. Reversing a kayak in a straight line is harder than it looks. I’ve seen many a candidate struggle. Being able to stop in a precise and controlled manner is needed for eskimo bow rescues. Try your stop on the pool edge, or a foam floating. Do this a bunch of times and push hard, you will sweat…
A stroke made for practice in a pool click here. The goal of a draw stroke is to move straight sideways in situations such as helping during a rescue or rafting up. There are three types demo’d here. Check to see if you are going straight. Test yourself by putting your bow or stern on the edge of the pool, then draw along it. Another test is seeing if the bow and stern move at the same speeds by seeing if the boat stays parallel to the pool walls.
This is critical practice click here. The only way low & high braces are effective are if they are practiced enough to make them a reaction. The pool offers the perfect place. Testing oneself by going farther over helps with technique as does having the boat moving then bracing. Points for getting the boat over 90 degrees. Sculling for support, the stroke that makes you look cool also can help with your roll. Going extreme helped me with debugging my roll as I worked to make it reliable.
Another great stroke for the pool click here. Pick a spot on the side of the pool and try to draw yourself to it as you would to get alongside someone or to draw away from someone or thing like a rock. Silly practice is to try it in reverse, good for pushing your boat and blade handling.
A challenge in the tight spaces of some pools click here. This is a great maneuvering stroke that tests sweeps, edging and paddle placement. Thrown in some floaties to go around or corners in the pool. Also practice reverse, in the videos case using a sweep and edging.
Silly draw strokes
If there was a stroke that can be done many ways click here. Why do em differently? To be silly of course. It also helps with blade and boat control.
Single and hand paddling
Different ways to move the kayak click here. For a canoeist, there isn’t a challenge to have half a paddle, different story for kayakers. Go to moving your boat with hands. Really breaks down what technique works well and what doesn’t.
Initially balance exercises seem silly. Well they are. But they also help you get more familiar with your boat and build your balance skill. Here are a couple of photos of classic balance exercises.
Crawling out on the deck to kiss the bow is another classic click here. A new spin is to sit in the cockpit and spin around.
Adding something realistic to the balance exercises is to paddle with a swimmer on the back deck click here. Want more challenge, have the swimmer sit up and move around, you will feel tippy!
Combine balance exercises and silly strokes, you end up with this click here.
So is this everything you can do in a pool? No way, there is lots more and the limit is only in your imagination. Take this as a start, there is no way you should get bored in a pool!