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PADDLE POWER

Graeme Schlachter and Audra Turner run through what it takes to be a first rate support kayaker

Ihave been swimming in open water for around nine years now and I’m immensely grateful to the people (with special mention for my partner Audra, who’s also provided most of the input for this article) who have made many of my swims possible by providing kayak and other support. In brief, there are a lot of amazing swims out there that simply cannot be done unless you have someone to support and paddle alongside you. It’s a tough job – but a rewarding one (although not in any financial sense!). There’s also a lot of responsibility. You not only have to feed, motivate and encourage the swimmer but also monitor their condition. You have to know both when to push them on and how to spot if they’re in trouble and you need to get them out. You must be capable of completing the distance yourself as, in many cases, if the kayaker can no longer continue then the swim is over.

It’s also a job for which there is very little information and guidance, so Audra and I decided to put something together. This is the concise version for H2Open Magazine. There is a longer version on my blog that also includes specific details about the wonderful SCAR swim in Arizona.

BOAT CHOICE

Probably the first question that needs answering is: are you using your own kayak or will you be supplied with one by the organisers? This is closely followed by: what type of boat will I be using?

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About Outdoor Swimmer

There is wild swimming and there is really wild swimming. This issue we bring you some pretty extreme swimming from the Arctic Circle. It is thrilling stuff, but if you like your thrills a little more genteel then check out our feature on swimming walks in Devon. Elsewhere in the mag we are feeling pretty zen: breathe deeply and read our features on yoga for open water swimmers and the benefits of mindful swimming. Not all of us are lucky enough to live near the open water. For many, me included, our regular dose of outdoor swimming is from our local lido. We look at the lido revival that is taking place around the country. As well as more event reviews and event listings than ever before we also have tips on better backstroke from Terry Laughlin, how to train with paddles from Fiona Ford and Ed Williams teaches you how to bounce back from failure. Plus, gear reviews, nutrition and loads more!
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