Kayak Courses in High School Pools?

I live in Michigan. This is also my first year kayaking. I keep reading about courses in “rolls” to be held at at a neighborhood swimming pool. I do not have the necessary attire to safely continue my “new love” when the weather gets really cold in a real situation. So, do I wait til next year? What is the benefit of taking a class in an enclosed environment? Your input is appreciated. Liz

Just do it
In a pool you can concentrate on what you are trying to learn. The water is warm and clean and you don’t have to worry about banging your head. Wear noseplugs or a swimmask. The chlorine water bothers my sinuses and most people get a whole lot of water up their nose. It’s not unusual to take three or four sessions to be able to roll, for some people it is easy for some it isn’t, you can also use the time to practice braces , wet exits, and if you get bored seal launches and cartwheels.

Yes, do it.
Pool sessions are an aspect of kayaking, at least for those of us who don’t live in Florida or SoCal. Even in those clines it is not unusual for skills classes to be given in pools.

As noted, there are many skills that add safety, efficiency, and fun that take instruction and practice - rolling is one of the essential and most difficult (for most of us)skills.

Pool sessions over the winter also keep you connected with your boat and other paddlers.

I took one many years ago
at the local college in winter, and the very last day managed to do a roll.

I used it one time in a WW yak, in a rain swollen river, and after missing the first try, and them bumping the hell out of my head on the rocks, (thank goodnes for the helmut)gave up and opted for a wet exit.

I have never used it since, always opting for a wet exit, but if the opportunity came up for another roll class witin a reasonable driving distance, I would go in a heartbeat.

If the cost is reasonable, I say go. It would be a fun experience as well as a learning one.



Re: Pool Sesions
The caveat here is…Most of the time these courses are one off deals. Not a ‘get to use the pool several times a month’.

Often there are regulations against using a pfd and almost always you’re using the courses boats rather than your own.

These are things one needs to ask about before plunking down the $$.

It’s not only a good thing for learning the roll, but It’s surprising how many other things that you can practice in a flat water environment. Get proficient at your roll this winter and then when you take classes next spring you will be able to approach the lessons with much more confidence and it’ll steepen the learning curve.



If you want to advance your skills or just brush up on your skills, a pool session is great. You will meet many fun and supportive people who share the same passion. We have weekly open pool sessions and I look forward to them all. My skills would not be anywhere near what they are without pool sessions. It’s also a good place to try different paddles and kayaks. A nose plug and swimming goggles really help out. Enjoy.

MI pool class
Don’t know where you are in Michigan, but here’s one possibility:


Good questions to ask.
Our local ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club)chapter sponsors pool sessions and we bring our own boats and equipment.

Fortunately the H.S. pool used is huge! Last session I attended there were over a half dozen of us in full touring boats.

Your local ACA chapter might sponsor sessions.

Ditto and a few supportive ideas

– Last Updated: Oct-25-04 11:36 AM EST –

Rolling is counter intuitive and the rest is muscle memory. Our instincts tell us to raise our head and it destroys the rotation of the kayak bringing us up. In a pool you can learn to relax, learn to tune in to the sensation of letting go with set up knee, learn to roll the kayak under you all while being relaxed and lying flat on the surface of the water. When learned this way, you only use your paddle in a minimal fashion. That is how it is possible to roll in storms, whitewater with foam and when thrown over when exhausted etc. Rolling now is taught to beginning kayakers and not as an advanced skill. Instructors have seen how much intuitive and muscle learning occurs during rolling learning, which leads directly to comfort and confidence in the boat, and the skills of rolling are the core for learning bracing, edging, and boat control.

The two reasons most paddlers do not learn to roll is that they never learn to enjoy being in the water, thinking it takes muscle and difficulty to roll. The other is that improperly learned rolls do n ot work well in real conditions. If you learn to roll without muscles, you can easily next spring go out with a partner in gradually harder conditions and show yourself how easy it can be.

The best DVD on this, as voted my many paddlers is called appropriately, THE KAYAK ROLL. It looks at first to be aimed at whitewater folks, but it is not. The type of roll style shown is a proven style that is very safe to the neck and shoulder, and has a proven record of success for kids, adults and even seniors learning it and using it in real conditions. The sytle shown is one the you can retain, like CPR, a skill that may not be used often but can be recalled when needed. Check it out, it is very very well produced even having a diagnostic section to help you spot a problem you are having.

I Did It Last Year
It’s fun and you learn a lot. Rolled at session #3. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while.

the other benefit
of going to a pool class is meeting other boaters in your approximate skill level, and others who might be willing to mentor you, once the paddling season resumes.

Going To Try it
I plan to try a roll lesson in a pool this winter.

I might even be able to do it in my own pool, but not sure it is big enough. Maybe with a helmet?

I do throw my kayaks in the pool to practice deep water re-entry…

Pool Sessions at Eastern Michigan University are Sundays 6pm - 8pm. Visit http://www.emupa.org

In addition, there are pool sessions
in the Lansing Area and Ann Arbor. Drop me an email if you are interested.

Also in Lake Orion