Swimming and Wading Techniques in Swiftwater Rescue Outline I. Description

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1 I. Description A. This component of the Curriculum is designed to give the students effective strategies for swimming in moving water and whitewater. II. Objectives A. Upon completion of this component the participants will be able to: 1. Demonstrate and explain swimming strategies in Swiftwater rescue 2. Demonstrate and explain the proper technique of Swiftwater entry. 3. Demonstrate and explain the techniques of passive and aggressive swimming in whitewater. 4. Demonstrate and explain the technique of switching from passive to aggressive swimming without touching the river bed. 5. Demonstrate and explain the skills for effective entry and exiting an eddy. 6. Understand how the ferry angle affects swimming across moving water. 7. Understand how to properly breathe in whitewater. III. Prerequisites A. Proper Equipment 1. Helmet 2. Type III PFD Preferably whitewater specific 3. Adequate Clothing for Cold Water/Weather B. Throw Rope Skills IV. C. Wading Skills Location A. Flat-water site progressing toward above Class II whitewater with a large pool downstream for swimming and recovery. V. Special Note: A. Use half of the class as swimmers and the second half of the class as rope throwers. Position rope throwers near the bottom of the current, but not in the pool at the bottom. B. Establish another instructor as upstream safety since we will have swimmers in the water. VI. Introduction A. Challenge by Choice B. Risk Spectrum 1 of 5

2 1. High Risk 2. Fast to Very Fast 3. Simple C. Advantages 1. Speed 2. Low Tech 3. Great Access Tool 4. Fun 5. Personal Safety / Rescue D. Disadvantages 1. High Risk 2. Poor Visibility 3. Cold VII. Flat-water or Slow Moving Water A. Swiftwater Entry 1. Keep head and feet elevated 2. Impact on chest or PFD 3. Hands out in front of face, about inches, with elbows bent to soften blow of rocks. 4. Aim at about a 45 degree angle upstream to set ferry angle. 5. Once in the water spread arms out to limit depth of entry into water. B. Defensive Swimming 1. Sit in water facing down stream with your feet up and in front of you. 2. Don t try to sit up, but try to bring hips toward surface of water. 3. Tuck you chin into your chest and look ahead or where you want to go. 4. Do not allow the current to turn you sideways. 5. Advantages a) Limits risk of foot entrapment b) Allows swimmer to have a limited field of vision. c) Allows swimmer to use feet to push off of obstacles C. Aggressive Swimming 1. Similar to the breast stroke percent of power comes from arm motion a) Elbows should be slightly flexed b) Fingers slightly spread will increases the surface area of your hand which increases power. 2 of 5

3 3. Feet and legs should be used minimally to kick to protect them from being hit by rocks 4. Works well in ferrying across water 5. Disadvantages a) Limited field of vision b) Breathing or taking breaths may be more difficult. D. Moving from Passive to Aggressive Swimming 1. Remember K.I.S.S. Principle 2. Simply roll over onto belly and begin aggressive swimming to destination. E. Eddy Entry (Eddy Turns) and Exiting (Peel Outs) 1. Eddy Entry a) Eddy Turn (1) A head first approach, in aggressive swimming (2) Enter the eddy high and at a 45 degree angle (3) Continue swimming hard until you are in the eddy to keep from being pushed downstream (4) Note: Probably more effective in deep, powerful water. b) Barrel Roll (1) Initiate a roll into the eddy (2) Rolling from your belly to your back and continue repeating until you are into the eddy. (3) May be more effective and less intimidating that eddy turn. 3 of 5

4 2. Peel Outs a) Swiftwater entry (See above) b) Speed for faster moving water you should have more speed coming across the eddy line. But you may be able to compensate some with your Swiftwater entry. c) Angle Your angle exiting the eddy should be pretty aggressive, at least 45 degrees, depending on where you want to go. If you want to ferry across the river you should have a greater angle than if you just wanted to reenter the current to go downstream. d) Position As in boating you should try to exit the eddy from the safest and highest spot to keep from being pushed back into the eddy. F. Ferrying in Moving Water 1. While not as useful as in a boat you can slow your downstream progress 2. Angle should be approximately 45 degrees upstream angle to the current. 3. Works most effectively in aggressive swimming facing upstream, but you can use an aggressive backstroke. VIII. Whitewater A. Breathing Patterns 1. Turning your head to the side in waves may help 2. Time breathing in wave trains, so that you breathe after going through a wave on the back side of it. B. Special Considerations 1. Ledges a) Pull knees up to your chest or ball up b) Prevents foot entrapment 2. Holes / Hydraulics a) Change shape of your body or ball up b) Swim to one edge c) Swim to bottom d) Look for jet of water underwater 3. Strainers Will discuss specifically in strainer drill. C. Swiftwater Entry D. Defensive Swimming E. Aggressive Swimming 4 of 5

5 IX. Swimming and Wading Techniques in F. Moving from Passive to Aggressive Swimming G. Eddy Entry and Exiting H. Ferrying Debrief A. Take Home Points 1. Breath when cresting wave and turn head to breath to the side. 2. Body can do anything a boat can do. 3. Focus on the destination, look where you are going. 4. Use good ferry angles, similar to boating. 5. Safe Eddy Rule: Only stand up when you can do a pushup off of bottom and your face is out of the water. B. Questions / Comments 5 of 5

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