Sports and Love

So, I’m dating a lovely person who happens to be far more daring with his body than I am. (I tease that he is an adrenaline junky.)

He would deny this. But he would be wrong.

Specifically, the ways he likes to use his body are: snowboarding (on black diamond slopes); rock climbing; and whitewater kayaking.
Whitewater kayaking (which I didn’t quite understand when I agreed to apprentice in the sport) means you are going to go down rivers, take on rapids, go over falls, and wear helmets because you will be in rocky terrain being pushed along by implacable current. Really good whitewater kayakers sometimes drown.

I am pretty much betting on my low risk profile and my dislike for heart pounding experiences to keep me safe. So I’m going to do the lamest possible version of whitewater kayaking that I can get away with, without totally disgracing myself.

Last summer, I proved my love by taking the novice intro class to whitewater kayaking. This went mediocrely for a variety of reasons, which I wont go into in detail, some of which had to do with my general state of unfitness and some of it had to do with how much time I spent outside my boat. I had been told that what happens when your kayak tips over is that you “go for a swim.” I was on my high school swim team, so the notion of “going for a swim” seemed totally okay. I like swimming. I’m good at swimming. Swimming in scenic rivers was a fine prospect.

Crucial details had been omitted: 1) when you exit your boat there’s probably a good reason that you tipped over–the current was strong, you didn’t quite make the bumpy ride over the whitewater caused by current flowing over rocks. This means you exit, upside down, pushing out of your boat, INTO rocks. 2) When you exit your boat, which is upside down in a river, your boat fills with water. You then need to a) be rescued b) rescue your boat, so that you can c) empty said boat in very inconvenient places–the boat will have 60 gallons of water in it, and you will need to drag it to shore and lift the boat and rock it front to back so that the water flushes out. 3) repeat Step 2 five times in one day and you will find yourself a bit disheartened.

So this year, in preparing for this summer’s misadventures, I’m now engaged in rolling practice, because truly the thing about kayaking is that it’s okay to tip over as long as you can right yourself. The one big lesson this swimmer picked up last summer was: Do Not Exit the Boat!

I just want to be clear in defining rolling practice, because those two words together sound innocuous: Rolling practice consists of strapping into your kayak and then volunteering to be forcibly tipped under, upside down in a pool, over and over again, while you try to learn the skill to right your boat and un-drown yourself.

Why am I doing this?
I could go on about wanting mastery, and wanting to feel brave, and those would both be true, but the fact is that my boyfriend is super cute in his boat, and I want to be cute too, and I want to learn something that he is learning too, even though he is by far way more athletic than I will ever be.

2 thoughts on “Sports and Love

  1. Reading your description is like reliving the moments! It was 1993, or something, I did it to impress my brother (not sure it worked), and I am not planning on ever doing it again.

  2. I heard about rolling practice years ago and thought wouldn’t a better name for it be Recreational Simulated Drowning? I can’t imagine doing it without someone cute serving as motivation. In fact, a Kayak Roll could be a unit of beauty. A three-Kayak-Roll woman—she’d be something else.

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