Don’t lose your paddle!


That water’s strong. My nose is pointing downstream.

Can I get across to the bank. There should be an eddy. I can’t see the eddy.

I’m upside down.

My boat is still moving.

Can I get up? There’s rocks to my right!

Can I reach the bottom of my boat? Have I banged? Have they heard me? Can I feel another boat’s nose?

Get out of the boat! I’m out. There’s a boat. I grab its nose. I’m scared, I’m not letting go. Phil tells me he’s got me. 

I’m sat on the rocks of the bank. I’m shaking. Why am I doing this? I can’t do this? I’ve had enough, I want to call it a day.

I’m trying not to cry. Sophie feeds me sugar. My boat is upright, mostly empty and waiting for me.

I’m scared. I get back in the boat.

My first swim in real moving water. I’ve swam plenty at Cardington but that’s a different beast. It’s like swimming in the pool. This felt very different.

The boat is a borrowed TekSport, not the best for your first foray into slightly whitewater.

It’s unforgiving if you get your edging wrong, but it’s a boat model I’ve paddled before and knew fitted.

I’d like to say that was my only swim, but it wasn’t. 

It was my 2nd run, and was between features trying to play in the moving water when I caught the boat’s edge.

This time there was no hesitation. I ripped off my deck and was immediately up and out. 

I righted the boat and assumed the defensive swim position. 

Keep your bum up, keep your bum up. My internal chatter. Steer yourself. There’s a feature. 

Grab the line. Can feel the pull on the rope as Sophie and Phil try to halt my being washed down stream. I try to avoid the rocks in the shallower water.

They pull me up to the exit point and out of the water. 

I sit on the edge of the get out point. Feet dangling in the water. Am surprisingly calm.

Time to call it a day.


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