YMCA Fall Pool Classes/Sessions!

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YMCA Fall Pool Classes/Sessions!

Postby rich on Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:35 pm

For anyone just getting into kayaking, I highly recommend making it to one of the local YMCA pool sessions/classes. I made it to the first one last Tuesday at the Lattof YMCA and it was well, well worth it - I can't stress this enough! You'll be learning skills that could save your life one day and help you be a better and safer paddler.

There were somewhere around 6-8 boats available for use. All were older style whitewater boats that the instructors or other CWA (Chicago Whitewater Assoc. ) members had brought in for use in the classes. There were only 3 students (myself and two others) and since all of us had already kayaked previously, we quickly went through the basics of a boat and then got into our boats and the pool to practice wet exits.

After this we were taught and shown assisted bow recoveries. The assisted bow recovery is used when you have capsized and you have a partner nearby that can quickly assist you. While you are upside down in the water your partner brings their boat in perpendicular to yours, you then grab onto the bow and lift your head out of the water and do a hip snap with a push and right your boat. Although not typically very practical it is a very convenient recovery and gives you a taste of what you'll need to do during a eskimo roll. After being shown how to do this it was basically one on one instruction for each of us. We practiced the assisted bow recovery with the instructors with each group going in slightly different directions afterwards practicing various skills as needed.

After this we covered the basic strokes; forward and reverse strokes, sweeps for turning, draws for moving sideways followed by a more efficient method called sculling. The draws and sculling were pretty cool to learn. I got the basics down after being shown a few times but will need plenty of practice to make it habitual/natural so that the boat moves sideways without turning to one side. Likewise with the forward stroke, it wasn't the easiest thing keeping my whitewater boat straight. Also, since I own a rec kayak, the whitewater boat I was using was significantly more tippy than I'm used to, again, I'm sure some massive amounts of practice will help with this.

Lastly we covered a solo rescue called the cowboy reentry. This is where you climb onto the back of your kayak and straddle it, pulling yourself forwards so you are sitting just behind the cockpit. You then slowly and carefully insert your legs and butt into the kayak. This requires great balance, I failed 3 times and instructor Dan Leigh lightly held the boat for a bit of stability to help me finally make it in without capsizing (and so he could continue with the class :)).

All of this was had for only $15 for a 2 hour lesson (should have been $20 but person at YMCA front desk was told the cost was $15). You have two payment options, either pay for all 7 classes at once or just show up on and individual basis and pay per class. If you missed the first class, then you will want to pay for a lesson one at a time. If you don't want to take a lesson you can also show up for a practice session ($15/practice session). Last Tuesday there were about 5 others that either brought in their own whitewater boats or used one of the class boats for a practice session.

Classes are being offered at various locations and times:
Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines
Oak Park YMCA
Naperville North High School
Conant High School

More details can be found at the Chicago Whitewater Association website:
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