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Pool Jam

I’ve been to two different pool programs lately, one operated by some acquaintances from the Yonkers and DTBH programs, another through a friend who does whitewater with the AMC. With as much as ice as there has been cluttering the shores of the Hudson lately, I’ve welcomed the opportunity to really work out – and practice instruction – in a more hospitable venue.

There’s a pretty common dynamic to pool programs. The first hour or so is pretty empty, as only the hardcore regulars are there on time, and help set up, and get in the water. Then the students and other neophytes come in, and the lead instructors peel off and give them all the time they need, standing in the pool, supervising wet exits, and so on. Then, as more students get to where they can noodle around on their own, the pool fills up, till it’s a shifting seascape of boats and paddles.

Then, theres rolling. Everyone is rolling except the newbies. Pools are great for rolling practice, as the water is clean and clear, and you and your mates can really see what you’re doing. Did the paddle dive, was it not in the right position? Was there no hip flick? And so on. I worked a bit on my “offside” – remember, there is no such thing as an offside – but also got in three in under a minute, which is practice for a particular long-term goal I have.

Pool programs tend to be less structured, ironically given how much goes into organizing them. I think this is because the ratio of instructors to students can vary widely and change on short notice. I’m of the opinion that most instruction, especially for newbies, really needs to occur in stages: one or two things and then practice, and next time, review, add one or two things, practice. Color me skeptical of being able to teach a someone everything in an hour and have them remember even half of it the next week.

I spent a fair amount of time practicing my hanging draw and some bracing turns, which are kinda ridiculous in whitewater boats. The extreme stability of the boat I was in allowed me to push my own mental limits. With one of the instructors, I really got low on my sculling brace, and that felt good. Now for warmer climes, when I can take my own boat out on the river and attempt the same.

Published in 2014 Backpaddle Kayaking

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