3 Lessons Learned White Water Kayaking


As part of my Dare a Day challenge, I took my first white water kayaking class today, which turned out to be more challenging (and fun!) than I expected.

In the class we:

  • Learned the basics of white water kayak boats and how to adjust them
  • How to attach a water skirt onto the boat
  • How to wet exit
  • Different paddle techniques
  • The beginning of the roll
  • How to hip snap and guide the boat with your hips

By far, the most challenging part of this class was the “wet exit.” A wet exit is the act of removing yourself from your water skirt while you are underwater, in order to swim up safely from under your boat. I found it difficult to keep “water zen” as the instructor called it as I was hanging underwater attached by my skirt. See below for a demonstration of what a “wet exit” entails:

This move was far outside of my comfort zone in the beginning, and the first time I attempted the wet exit I began panicing under water but got myself out after about 1 second. The second time it was much easier and the fear had lessoned. After repetition, it becomes much easier.

The rest of the class was a breeze, and it made me hungry to go back for future classes that are offered. From this experience, I was reminded of 3 lessons:

Repetition erases fear; avoidance feeds it

Not in all cases, but most of the time, fear is completely irrational. Avoiding the things you fear only makes them bigger, by facing them over and over, they lessen and diminish. Repetition is the key: the more you repeat something you fear, the smaller the fear gets.

Self-talk is everything

What words are you speaking to yourself when you face your fears? Are you speaking about how incapable you are? It is important to support yourself while are facing a fear, otherwise you’ve lost the battle before you have even started, you might as well not even try.

The first time I attempted the wet exit, I pumped myself up before I went under, but once I went under, the negative self-talk ensued. The second time, I made a huge effort to focus on breathing (not literally, though 😉 ) and positive self-talk. This time was much more successful with no underwater panicing.

Going outside of your comfort zone is a wonderful way to build trust

Each time you face something you fear or otherwise break outside of what is comfortable, you build trust. Every time something “scary” is faced, and you come out with minimal bruising, your realize how dumb your fears were to begin with.

Have you ever tried white water kayaking? What is  your experience getting out of your comfort zone?


2 thoughts on “3 Lessons Learned White Water Kayaking

  1. This is a great post, Alli. I remember when I learned to roll a kayak and “wet exit” as you call it. I used to love rolling! I bet you will too. I’m so glad you’re trying new things.

    Sent from my iPhone


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