Fear WHILE Rolling

-- Last Updated: Oct-21-05 4:57 AM EST --

I over analyze sometimes. (most times) but I think I learned an important lesson these last couple of days.
While I have been practicing my rolls and now a static brace, I have had a sense of urgency in getting up, and it has nothing to do with not having air. It has everything to do with the unknown. The intent is to get up as quickly as possible because of the risks of hypothermia, or to be able to get control back of your boat during conditions. I understand that, but I wonder how many people have the jaws theme running through their mind as they roll up? Or the clock in peter pan's alligator? Or is it just me?

I realize the chances of something happening are even more remote than Scupperpro Frank actually catching a fish (which is extremely remote in itself,) and I am forcing myself to stay under longer and relax.

There. I admitted it. Hi my name is Paul and I have been a chicken (no not chicken...alligators love chicken!) for 4 months.

Hi Paul.

but Ive been told my problem is that I take too much time. I am at the point that I have to really concentrate on four or five issues or I wont come up. So, I find myself in position under the boat thinking, chin into shoulder, left hip up and right down, fingers lite on the paddle… and I wind up staying under for a half a minute or so before comming up.

Guess I must have difficult to learn muscles.

Happy Paddling,


learn wet exit first
sounds silly one thing that can be helpful is to learn to be comfortable under water first. Tip over with no plans of rolling over, get your bearings, hang out. Bang with both hands on your hull (part of boat that is now up) three times (this is taught in classes so you can alert fellow paddlers and also to relax). Remove your sprayskirt and exit. Part of what helps me is being able to calmly think while upside and this only happens when you can relax. It also helps avoid the rushed failed roll.

I have absolutely no problems hanging upside down and or wet exiting, or being in the water. What I was talking about is that little niggling fear about the unknown below you. That’s all. Certainly not enough to curtail my actions and I have wet exited on several occasions beyond the surf line and sandbar at the beach. and have swam from the middle of the lake to shore on purpose. So it is obviously not curtailing my actions any.

Just a little fear that I attribute some of my hurry in roll practice to and now that I have identified it, can slow down a bit more and concentrate on the techniques at hand.

I was just wondering if anyone else occasionally hears “tick tock tick tock”



sorry if I wasn’t clear before.

Death is only a few inches away
Strangely enough, it is healthy to have fear of something that can kill you, i.e., lack of air. You know it would not be functional to be relaxed if being held up by an armed robber, or when a fire alarm goes off.

So, really it is necessary to make sure one knows absolutely how to do bomb proof controlled wet exits, and have mutliple ways to get the skirt off, and to practice the fastest wet exit one can and KNOW how long it takes to get to the surface.

Then one can relax enough to learn the components of rolling that make up this complex but not complicated counter-intuitive skill, that cannot be visualized completely at first.

I instruct rollers from 6 to 78 successfully this way, give it a try.


excellent points
and thanks. Never occurred to me to try and think of different ways of getting the spray skirt off. the only two I have done is with the handle and then pulling up from around the front of the coaming. (Oh I also have sucessfully twisted and jammed my knee up loosening the skirt so that it was easy to pull off, but your comment makes me think of several other ways to try. thanks!

In terms of wet exits, I don’t seem to have any problems except when I tried out the Impex Outer Island the other day. I was pretty jamed into the boat and had to train myself to do the classic lean forward and push up to get the legs out smoothly. If I end up buying this boat, (which I suspect I will shortly) I will have a lot more opportunity to practice with it. With the Tempest, it is a relatively simple thing to both wet exit and also to re-enter and roll back up.


Rocks and stuff

– Last Updated: Oct-21-05 12:25 PM EST –

I am more casual about the rolling itself now, but still try to check the bottom when I can before rolling. Not because of any fear of the living things down there, but because I really have had a couple of near misses when I didn't with things that could have been a problem. After I was blown a bit while setting up in a local pond and found my shoulder on a sharp rock when I went over, I added a helmet for that pond. It could have been my head. And I am very careful about that on the cove we stay in Maine each summer - between a 10-11 ft tide and a rocky bottom it can take constant vigilence not to be over one of them.

I've also gone over into weeds that were more present than it had seemed from above and found that I had an unexpected handicap. Not enough to kill a roll, but enough to change the sensate response.

I don't think that what lurks under is scary, but a little respect for what you are over when practicing closer to the shore is in order.

Can not be visualized completely, at first. Yep, I certainly had that issue during my learning process. I took a class, talked to several folks until they did not want to talk to me anymore, and watched a recommended video many times.

I can remember staying awake almost all night one night attempting to visualize exactly how everything was supposed to work. For me this was required as my mind just works that way. But, Ive got to admit that spending that much time thinking about it likely was counter-productive.


Actually, Fear Is Not…
the only thing but the adrenaline that goes with it. Adrenaline dump can hurt or help you. The adrenaline based training is about learning to being able to act in concert with the adrenaline rather than having it debilitate. That’s why I think folks should do easy white water or small surf as part of their combat roll training.

Fear is always there, if one is rational about life threatening situations. It is learning how to deal with the adrenaline that makes a difference whether one is frozen like a deer in the headlights, or able to act through it.

And, yes, I have been confronted by arm folks, knife, blunt instruments and gun, and have been able to act through it. It’s only afterward the situation, that the shakes and the nausea become overwhelming (and then subsequent replaying nightmares). Training is the key. Good training with acknowledgement of the adrenaline dump is even more important to bring one closer to being able to act through a real situation.

Google “adenaline dump” and you’ll find a host of information about the affects and then figure out how to incorporate training that deals more effectively with it.


Do you have frequent heartburn?
I was having some problems with it because of a hiatal hernia. I was more nervous upside down. Once that was controlled, the fear subsided.

hernia and other symptoms
actually I do have a hiatal hernia. interesting. but have never felt any symptoms under or over the water.

Honestly though I guess my attempt at some humor went south…and the thread developed into fear while being underwater (which I really don’t have) instead of making a joke about peter pan’s alligator.

tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock

(who can guess that the kids watched Peter Pan for the umpteenth time yesterday?)


Fear THIS…
A five foot croc seen in my canal this morn…


No critter fears here.
Great Lakes sharks are very localized around Detroit and Northern Michigan, and are kept in check by bands of Native Americans. :wink:

Seriously, we’ve got no real critters in the water to fear here, and hypothermia would take longer than a slow roll anyway. I do get a little unnerved in shallow Great Lakes water when the waves are up. I was surfing into shore one time this summer in relatively small waves and got broached to my off side. All I got was loads of sand in my hair, but it’s embarassing being pumped like a piston into the lake bed while trying to set up.


Like I really needed that.

Well, in WW…
Well, in WW, the things you are rolling in are the things you would otherwise be swimming in.

Once you get the idea that swimming sucks and rolling is a much, much faster way to get to get away from the scary stuff, rolling is less scary than swimming.

I agree completely
but I was alluding to the speed imposed while learning rolls. the other day I forced myself to stop underwater and look around, and slow down my movements considerably, and I did not miss one.

I realized that the speed factor, while good, for me anyway was due to some slight fear of the critters underneath me. I think that by recognizing that this was what was speeding me up, I consciously slowed down and saw immediate improvement.

I was just wondering if others had the same thoughts.

no big deal really…just an observation on my part.


fear of the unknown? make it known
once you cna get to the set up nposition fron the back deck, then just hang out with your head against the back deck. Since the depth is low and the water tends not to go up the nose it is actually is a comfy place to hang out.

Speed “kills”

– Last Updated: Oct-21-05 1:41 PM EST –

Yup. Slowing down helps learning and doing rolls. While you can do rolls quickly, it's an additional skill to do fast rolls properly.

I'm not worried about "critters" or other unknowns largly because there's no real risk. I've also done a lot of SCUBA diving so I've seen the "critters" up close.

I might be wary about an area known for sharks but I probably wouldn't be practicing rolling there! If I happen to capsize in such a location, I would not be worried about rolling (especially compared to swimming). Any sharks that witness a capsize and roll would not have any chance to take advantage of it! Swimming, on the otherhand, would give them ample time to get the steak sauce!

Rocks in WW, are a very real risk (I can show you my helmet if you are unconvinced).

It's not that hard to get to a point where you can do the roll quicker than thinking about other things. But the roll technique should be solid.

Even in WW, a slow roll is much faster and safer than any other recovery method.


We have Snakehead fish up here in MD. They have big nasty sharp teeth and are killing all the other fish (as they are not native). Sometimes I think about them, but not much.

No gators here, but when I get on the ocean I think about sharks. Of course sharks are opportunist scavengers looking for wounded things that can’t hurt them (they’re actually just scared little pussies with very big mouths). If you capsize around a shark you will likely scare the crap out of it. But, if you are flailing in the water, struggling to get back in your boat for a while, you may draw their interest.

I sometimes worry about conking my head on a giant turtle when I roll practice. Sometimes I slap the water a few times with my paddle to scare anything away.

Crocs on the move
One sighted in Port Everglades recently too. Things live right around the corner in West Lake so I’m not surprised. Range should keep pushing North.

Corcs are shy though. Bull sharks aren’t.