"No swimming/wading"--how about rolling?

-- Last Updated: Jun-17-06 10:45 PM EST --

I do roll/self rescue exercises in a reservoir that prohibits swimming and wading. Am I violating the law?

AM I A BAD PERSON??? (don't hold back)

Rolling okay
We often practice rolling etc… in lakes/reservours which prohibit swimminng. Thusfar the rangers are okay with it.

Yes and Yes
anyone else is probably ok though.


Only if you wet exit
"Roll or Fines" - one more incentive to stay in the kayak.

Well… I was taking the kids on a hike around Liberty Reservoir a week ago… I’m thinking this is the reservoir you are talking about :-)… and we were passed by several groups of kids in bathing suits and carrying towels.

On this same body of water, we had the kids in the canoe a month or so ago and we stopped to give the kids a snack, and we stumbled upon a tree in a cove with one of those huge rope swings that will propel you way out in the water.

I’m sure they mean “no swimming”… but I sure see a lot of it going on :-).


Really depends
On the local rangers. As above, we had finally asked a ranger about this because our early rolling practices involved so much more swimming that rolling. In fact it was actually a lot more refreshing on a hot day before we could do it fairly reliably.

He knew our boats, better upside down than right side up as it turned out, and tended to check on his last pass of the day that we were in the process of getting out of the water. On one of the lakes we did try and out of sight from where the kids tended to fish though, just in case.

Nice that you can work in a reservoir though - there isn’t any active reservoir around here that you can put even a foot into, let alone a boat. The places we use are parts of what used to be an older reservoir system that has since been turned into a park, just no swimming in most of it.

Going tomorrow if you want to come. Yes, I’ve seen all the rope swings, even helped some kids get one un-snagged from some branches with my throw rope.

Well, for what it’s worth, I just got back from a safety clinic that featured paddle walking, rope throwing, swimming, and a deep water reentry demo in a water supply with prominent NO SWIMMING signs. And this was apparently done with the approval of the controlling authorities.

Likewise, each of the demo days I’ve been to over several years has been in NO SWIM areas, including a couple on a lake with prominent PCB warnings. Of course, folks inevitably do wind up swimming/gulping, and taking on water, either unintentionally, or on purpose, just for the heck of it.

I keep waiting for the next club announcement: "And for our next trick, we’re going to demonstrate inverted paddle float re-entry down at the cooling ponds of the nuclear power plant. You will not need flashlights for this after dark demo, as you’ll be glowing by the time you’re done. "

OTOH, and in a more serious note, on a local drinking water reservoir, when the ranger told me to “stay in the boat at all times”, and I quipped that I hoped to, he sternly said, “Well, you better.” I just love how the rangers on that particular body of water, and it’s sister establishment, use power boats spewing oil into the water to make sure that you’re not rolling, swimming, or god forbid, peeing up in the woods. These are reservoirs so choked with carp that you can shove off on the backs of carp, but heaven help you dare to tread on the sacred banks of the reservoir, unless you’re one of the priveledged few that was grandfathered in to have lakeside housing, some with straight piped grey water plumbing right into the water supply.

yes, according to your laws

Carp get a bad rap because they can
live in marginal water, but they prefer cleaner water that they can dirty up themselves.

“No body contact” with water
We have some with the No Body Contact prohibition. The only one like that that I’d want to roll in has cold enough water I’d just wear a drysuit.

There are two places I like to do roll practice in. One allows swimming only if you belong to a swim club consortium that holds a special permit to use the place. This tells me the swimming prohibition is a matter of concern about safety (i.e., swim club members are excellent swimmers, so it’s OK for them to swim). At this place, I just practice my wet exits, re-entries, rolls, etc. and don’t worry about getting fined. It’s clearly not a body-contact issue.

At the other place, swimming is allowed only at a swim beach where boating is NOT allowed. Here, I used to tell a ranger (they’re always around) that I was going to do some practice that would involve capsizing, rolling, and other things that might look like there was trouble. I did not want them to become worried, as happened one time. Now I just go ahead and do my stuff. But I probably should tell them at the beginning of each season what I’m up to. Again, it appears to be more of a safety question than one of body contact.

Neither of the above two places allows gas engines. The one with the Body Contact prohibition allows gas engines. Go figure!

You awlright
If you are paddling in the WSSC reservoirs (Tridelphia or Rocky Gorge), it is illegal to come into bodily contact with the water, per WSSC regs. Furthermore, it is not permited to use any water craft that promotes frequent bodily contact with the water. Yah, it is illegal to roll, and you are probably endangering, to some small degree, the ability of other kayakers to use the water. That is, the rule wonks could just put kayaks down as a craft that is not allowed.

But you won’t get on my list of bad people for your body contact shenanigans. I mean, they let people spread poison around their yards (lawn treatments), and that is a lot more damaging to the watersheds than a little bit of kayaker B.O.

I have enduced cool-off capsizes in the reservoirs, but I always try to do it in the back of a remote cove. But one time when I returned to Scott’s Cove, I met a ww kayaker that had been there for an hour practicing rolls at the boat ramp. He said he did it all the time. There seems to be some level of acceptance about rolling.

But, it is probably better not to ask the WSSC officials to confirm that it is okay. They seem to have a manual that says “no” is a pretty good answer to any question.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

"NO bodily contact"
I think that’s just an easier way of saying: NO swimming, wading, floating, dunking, soaking, diving, sitting in, standing in, crawling in etc.

I was on the reservoir today and saw three people swimming, one guy fishing in waders and plenty of ropes to swing into the water. Also saw a yellow and black lab that ran along the shore next to me and then tried to swim out to me.

Ummm…where is a ranger to catch you
Ok …went to a water shed tonight to kayak…

I asked the ranger at the desk how many rangers are on duty at night…Her reply…2 for 9 miles of lake…

I say rollllll away =)

They start off with no…
The prohibited activity list specifies no swimming, no bathing, and no wading. I was thinking, “great, rolling is okay.” But if you read far enough, you get the no bodily contact part, plus, no hands, arms, or legs touching the water. They figured out about every way to say no other than no rolling. I know there are kayakers that can roll without hands and arms (straight jacket roll), but it’s hard to get around bodily contact.

So, it’s not like an easier way to say it, because they already said no swimming. It’s like they felt a need to put in a stop all for all the variants of questions the public might come up with.


Why no bodily contact?
Why on earth would any bodily contact with the water be prohibited? How could a human being coming in contact with the water be worse than 500 hp, hydrocarbon belching bass boats knifing through the water or farm runoff?

The only reason I can think of where such a rule makes sense is if the water is so nasty that contact is prohibited for your protection.


Depends on
the reason for the reservoir and the use of its water. Ive noticed that reservoirs that are used as potable water storage are generally no bodily contact and no gas engine. Obviously gas engines can pollute a water supply. I would say the “no contact” thing is to keep diseases that are carried by humans out of the water system.

It’s treated first, right?
The water’s treated before being pumped into the city water system, right? Even so, I can’t imagine me taking a dunk will sully the water anywhere near as much as the umpteen fish, beaver, deer, birds, etc. pooping in it. The worse thing that’ll come off my body is a little salt and traces of deodorant.

Is there another agenda at work?


Im sure it is treated.
Im just guessing but I know oil is tough to remove during treatment and there could possibly be some human nasties that the water isnt treated for.

Maybe its a no contact area because the its a sewage lagoon? Maybe a big detention reservoir? It might not be for drinking water at all…