The author completes a roll as Alex looks on.
The author completes a roll as Alex looks on.
Candace Horgan

Confluence Kayak Pool Class 3: learning to roll

After taking the first and second pool classes offered by Confluence Kayaks, I was back at the pool on Tuesday night for the third and final lesson in the three-session basic class, aimed at helping you gain a functional roll. Confluence's website states that many novices come back and practice their roll in the open pool session, available for $10 with gear or $25 with rentals, then retake the third pool session class to really fine-tune the roll.


The first 20 minutes was spent practicing and getting limber, feeling comfortable in the boat. After that, our two instructors, Dave and Alex, went to work, showing a multi-step process for learning the roll. First, we practiced flipping most of the way into the water, with our instructor holding our head to keep it just under the surface, then using the hip snap to roll the boat back up.

The next step was to work the paddle in, using a two step process. First, we brought the paddle parallel to the boat, then we rolled upside down, then we placed the paddle at a 90 degree angle to the boat, with one blade resting on the boat's bottom, and worked on rolling. Dave and Alex stood in the water next to the boat, offering reassurance and helping to complete the roll, if initial attempts failed.

Finally, it was time to try rolling without any assistance. Most of us had some success at getting the boat to roll up, but couldn't do it consistently. After nailing three rolls in a row, I failed on my last series and went for a swim, pulling the skirt and exiting the boat. It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely an improvement over the last time I tried to get a roll down eight years ago.

Every Tuesday night in the winter and spring, Confluence offers pool sessions, with the option for open pool, single lessons, or the three-session lesson I've been covering. Details are available on the website. Now that I've got the basics down, it's time to go back and practice!

The author underwater before rolling.
The author underwater before rolling.
Candace Horgan
Dave supports a student practicing without a paddle.
Dave supports a student practicing without a paddle.
Candace Horgan


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