My Dirty Little Secret
Basics, Basics, Basics
So, just as accomplished musicians practice scales each day, skilled athletes practice basics and do so frequently. As I've commented before, I generally paddle alone and use some of that time to practice all the strokes. As a level 4 instructor working on more advanced certifications you might think that I have all the basics pretty much nailed down. Not so fast.
Since getting my Cetus MV (a regular Cetus before that) I have had trouble with my paddle float self rescue. Now, remember that the boat is Swede form and widest behind the cockpit where, incidentally, is where I get aboard during a paddle float rescue. Well, I started missing more and more attempts until I was failing more than succeeding. Alas, was old aged (I am only 32) catching up with me? What to do?
Too ashamed to attend a support group, I did what any intelligent 29 year old would do: I went on line. I read articles and watched videos. I listened to how some push the boat under themselves and how some pull themselves onto the back deck. And, after each research session, I went out to try what I had read only to find it didn't work for me. There I was at age 25, all washed up and (literally) adrift.
Then I thought about how I had taught interns, residents and fellow and how I had always emphasized the basics. And I thought, what is basic to all these methods? Well, they begin by "swimming" to get one's legs to the surface. SWIMMING!
Boat on car, drive to shores of Lake Michigan, paddle downwind to a cove where I wouldn't hurt myself or anyone else (or be seen if I screwed up again). Got in the water; float on blade (always first); inflate float (only after on blade); into position. Then a little self talk: remember all your judo and what you tell all your students: "If you're working hard at it, you are doing it wrong." I told myself to forget that I am an amazingly muscular 40 year old and that it would be technique (not force) that would get the job done.
So, I relaxed, kicked and, like a catfish relaxing in the mud, casually swam onto the back deck and hooked a foot on the paddle shaft. Unbelievable. Back into the water, swim, back on the boat...over and over. My 35 year old heart beat with joy. I had not only found my way, I had done it with introspection and the wisdom of a 45 year old wizard. Now, if I could just do a head stand like Freya.