Confluence Kayak Pool Class 2: Getting comfortable underwater

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the beginning kayak pool classes offered by Confluence Kayaks. The pool lessons are taught over three two-hour sessions, and are designed to get you comfortable with kayak basics like strokes and the all-important Eskimo roll. The first class taught the wet exit and basic kayak strokes. Tuesday night, I participated in the middle class, where we started working on the hip snap and the T-rescue.

The T-rescue is important for learning to get comfortable with being upside down in the water, and working on getting a sound hip snap that will be the foundation of the Roll. In a T-rescue, after flipping upside down, you bang the sides of your boat with your hands, alerting your partner that you are in trouble. Your partner can then steer her boat into yours, and you can push down on the bow of your partner's boat to roll up again.

Part of what the T-rescue teaches is to keep your head against your shoulder as you roll. If you lead with your head, your roll will fail. Your head is the heaviest part of your body, and needs to come out of the water last. Our two instructors, Dave and Alex, patiently encouraged us to keep our heads on the bow of our partner's boat as we came up, just to learn to relax, before snapping the hips up to get the roll going.

That is, of course, easier said than done. When you get underwater and are hanging upside down in your boat, you have to fight to stay calm in the alien environment. One friend of mine suggested practicing blowing bubbles as you roll, as it mimics breathing to keep you calm and also forces you to keep your head down.

By the end of the class, I found it easier not to just roll upside down and hang for a bit, as I worked to get comfortable with being upside down.

Next week, the final class will teach bringing the paddle into play and doing the roll.

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