Sunday, 21 April 2013

20 seconds

There was a time when I used to swim a 'lot'. At the end, before stretching, I tried to do a few laps underwater. My maximum was a bit over 50 meters. Starting on the shallow end, swim with my belly against the bottom of the pool the 25 meters to the deep end, turn there, coming back to the shallow and turn with the last bit of air. I have no idea how long it used to take me but the sensation at the end was like a vacuum inside my belly. Last weekend I got that sensation again, only this time was while kayaking.
It has been a long time since my last paddle in rapids, 17 years or so, but that stretch stopped last Saturday when I joined 3 other sea kayak paddlers on a visit to the Olympic white water stadium in Penrith.
Mark lent me his white water kayak and I met my fellow paddlers on Saturday morning. I was very confident, although it was my first time in the kayak and it was not 100% adjusted for me (I still need to add some extra foam at the footrests), however I was totally fired up to be there. We did some practise at the bottom pool of the circuit, jumping to the current and coming back into the eddies (the parts where there is no current or it runs upstream). We did some rolls in the current and we jumped onto the conveyor that took us to the beginning of the circuit.

At the top. Beginning of the circuit
I went through the first rapid and the second, stopping after each to play the waves behind the rapid. On the third one I didn't go through and I got trapped in the 'hole' created behind the fall of water. I tried and rolled a few times but got thrown under water again before I could take any air. I waited as long as I could to be released but I could not hold any longer and I pulled the loop of my skirt and swam. Not a good start of the day...
Another one. Josh and David waiting on the eddy and Wade just finished this one.
I caught up with my flooded kayak at the bottom pool and went again for the next run. I was still feeling bold and confident. This second run was not good either. I got stuck in the first rapid and capsized, when I got up I was surfing the wave. I started to enjoy the surf when I found my self again under water. I tried but could not roll up. I was again trapped in a hole. This time, while still under water, I was released from the trap and when I tried again to roll again I succeeded. However I was totally exhausted and out of air, feeling that vacuum in my stomach. Take a look at the video at the bottom, it was only 20 seconds!!! Believe me, it felt a LOT LONGER than 20 seconds!!!
Looking up before the big apnea.
After that my boldness and confidence were gone and I started to paddle the circuit in a more humbled way. There were still lots of capsizes and rolls but none was long nor were more swims.


  1. Sometimes I'm just eternally glad that I was born a coward.

  2. When the adrenaline is pumping 20 seconds feel like 20 minutes.
    I now see your secret for being so skilled in the rock gardens at sea: white water training.