Kayaking with goggles
Yes, I was the girl who ran the river in her goggles.
I have been kayaking for a couple years now but have not spent enough time on the river to get past the “newb” status. I have swam almost every rapid down the main channel on the Ottawa River. Frustrated with swimming every time I paddled, I was ready to give up. But I am a firm believer in never giving up especially if it is something you love. Therefore, I had to figure out a way to get past my fears and frustrations. I am not scared of the river, I have swam it enough to know that it is quite safe (at the level I run it at), my fear is not for the water, my fear is not succeeding. I get so mad at myself when I swim. I know how to roll and I have a very good roll but once I get in the moving water and flip, my reaction is to pull my skirt.
After having a rough swim at the top of McCoys one day I knew I had to do something. A couple days later we went to Push Button ( a smaller more friendlier rapid ), which is a popular surf wave. I didn’t surf it, instead I paddled into it and flipped myself over and over like I would in flatwater to practice my roll. I rolled up, every time! Mind you, I did this wearing goggles. Some people asked why not nose plugs? They thought I wore contacts or I needed to see. That was not the case. I liked the goggles because as a kid I always swam with goggles. They cover my nose and make me feel more comfortable under the water. I feel like I get an extra ten seconds under the water when I wear them which gives me enough time to try another roll if I miss the first.
After having a successful day rolling in the whitewater I decided to go back and try surfing… with the goggles. There were lots of people there but I talked myself into not caring. It is better that I try surfing than sit in the eddy and watch. I did great, I got a bunch of surfs and everytime I flipped, I rolled back up.
After paddling with groups of guys and a couple girls, I realize that some girls create their own mind games about kayaking. I was probably the worst. I had this idea that the nose plugs would slip off while I was underwater and then I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath for as long. Even in flatwater if I went to practice my roll I would get butterflies in my stomach if I wasn’t wearing nose plugs. When I swim under water I blow bubbles out of my nose. Always have, always will (unfortunately). When I run out of air to blow out, I breathe in. Which is a big problem when I need to be able to hold my breath long enough incase I miss a few attempts. Again, the guys all tell me IT’s IN YOUR HEAD!!!! I believe it. So today we went to Push Button again and I brought the goggles but didn’t wear them. I wore my nose plugs and did just as good as I did with the goggles or maybe even better. This time I was able to carve a bit and am getting closer to being able to spin. A couple more times and I might get it!
So the point of this post is to let beginner kayakers know that it is ok to swim, it is ok to wear goggles, do whatever it takes to keep you on the water. Never give up, if it is something in your head then only you can talk yourself out of it. Keep trying. You will get it. I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be but I ditched the goggles and the butterflies have deminished. One step at a time :)!
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