Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

Skeena Swim Blog

Thursday, July 09: Ali the “Slacker”

SHANNON: “I can help you prepare food or stack gear – just let me know what needs to be done, the only thing I’m doing is training, I feel so useless…it’s not like I’m doing any of the hard work!” was Ali’s comment to me today on the phone. She and Chris Gee have been training hard, hitting the rivers daily, testing and improving Ali’s skills in different types of situations on the rivers.

We recently completed our Swiftwater Rescue training with Walter Bucher of Raven Rescue and I was humbled by Ali’s strength in the water. Let me put it into perspective, I am almost 6’ tall and when Ali gets sassy, I throw her over my shoulders and toss her (somewhere soft) so that she knows I’m the tough one! In the water is a different story…one of the skills Walter put to the test was our ability to get to “safe zones” in the river.

Our goal was to swim across into an eddy utilizing all the things we’ve learned about river hydraulics, currents, eddy lines, ferry angles, etc. I wasn’t the least bit worried as this was the 5th time I had taken this course. When I finally made it to the “safe zone” on the opposite side of the river, I felt as if my lungs were going to explode and that I couldn’t possibly swim another stroke. I was absolutely exhausted.

The WORST part was that I missed the first “safe zone” and the river carried me downstream a lot farther than I had hoped to go. Most the team followed suit and then it was Ali’s turn. Watching her swim was like watching a jet boat. She swam without faltering to hit 3 “safe zones” in the time it took the rest of us to hit 1! To add insult to injury, I don’t even think it increased her heart rate!

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