Is Rafting Safe for Non-Swimmers

rafting for non-swimmers

Rafting might very well be the ultimate water sport. It is the perfect balance between thrilling, adventurous, and leisurely.

It can be quite stimulating as it requires not only arm strength but also proper balance and significant leg work to keep the boat upright, which is why rafting for non-swimmers might not be a good idea.

While it’s a thrilling sport, rafting is also quite dangerous. Steering a raft through tumultuous waters is not exactly a piece of cake.

It requires strength, resilience, teamwork, and skill. In case the raft comes up against an unexpected obstruction in the river, it may even topple over.

Here is where you need to rely on yourself for rescue, and this is where your swimming skills can help you make it through.

Swimming Requirements for Different Rafting Levels

Swimming Requirements For Different Rafting Levels

There are a total of 6 levels of river rafting. Each level marks the level of difficulty as determined by the river rapids.

Even though we’ve already established that swimming is critical for survival when you’re out rafting, most river rafting companies do take non-swimmers out on comparatively calmer waters.

Up until level three, basic swimming is preferred but not an absolute necessity. It is possible to go rafting even if you cannot float.

As per safety requirements, all rafters must wear life jackets that can help keep them afloat while the instructor arranges an extraction.

The first three levels are considered softer waters.

Participation from each member is not a must on these trips, which is why even novices can join a group without posing any danger to the other participants.

However, as the ranking increases, the water becomes more challenging. Level 4 and above falls under the hard water classification in which participation from each member becomes a must.

All members present on the boat must paddle together to be able to navigate the vessel through hard waters.

Out on such waters, river rafting companies do not accommodate non-swimmers as they may pose a threat to the safety of others.

Rafting on currents level 4 and above requires strength, skill, and experience.

New rafters have a higher chance of falling out on class 4 rapids. While many enjoy the dip in the water, it is also distressing experience.

Your survival depends on you, and being able to maintain a calm mind in such a situation is absolutely necessary. It is a life-saving skill that takes significant time to master.

Even though swimming is not a requirement for even class 3 rapids, we do not recommend rafting for non-swimmers even at that level.

It is best if they stick to level 2 at max and learn at least necessary survival skills before they go on a rafting excursion.

Can I Do White Water Rafting if I Can’t Swim?

Can I Do White Water Rafting If I Can't Swim?

White water rafting is just another name for river rafting. We do not recommend rafting for non-swimmers.

However, most companies do take even non-swimmers out for an excursion on calmer river waters that are classified as 1 or 2.

Some even accommodate them in class 3 rivers. However, it is more challenging than the other two and is thus riskier.

How Dangerous Is White Water Rafting?

The perceived danger level for each rafting trip depends on the classification level of the river’s rapids.

Death by drowning is the number 1 danger of river rafting, especially for non-swimmers.

They tend to panic, and their frantic movements let the river current get the upper hand, taking them under.

Rafting is a strenuous exercise, which is why overexertion is the second most common reason for deaths when rafting.

The sport entails prolonged exposure to heat and the sun. Combine the physical exertion with the relentless heat, and it becomes a severe health risk.

River water is almost always icy as it comes from melted snow or spring run-off.

If throughout the trip, the boat overturns, or you lose balance and tip over, the cold water seeping into your clothes sends shock waves down the body.

The sudden temperature change can lead to hypothermia. If allowed to remain in the water for extended periods, a person even runs the risk of losing their limbs.

Injuries are more common than deaths when river rafting. All river rafting companies deliver a pre-rafting training session that teaches all participants basic survival skills.

You can use the training to keep you afloat and survive. However, avoiding injuries is another thing.

Once in the water, you will hit rocks, and that will hurt!

People who fall into the water often get out with severe cuts and bruises. Because rocks and other obstructions are part of the river, avoiding them is incredibly difficult.

Your raft my hit a rock, propelling all those aboard the vessel into the water. Non-swimmers can find such a situation very panic-inducing.

Their inexperience leaves them susceptible to mistakes, which could possibly lead to entrapment in the river bed.

What Happens If You Fall out While Whitewater Rafting?

What Happens If You Fall Out While Whitewater Rafting?

Falling out of your river raft will definitely not be the highlight of your rafting trip.

Being plunged into ice-cold water on a warm summer afternoon might be refreshing for the adventure seekers out there, for those who are experiencing whitewater rafting for the first time, it is quite a harrowing experience.

When you do fall out, the initial contact with cold water sends shock waves down the body. At that moment, control over the senses is most important.

The current will pull you along, and your waterlogged clothes will weigh you down.

The chances are that if you are entirely inexperienced and were inattentive during the pre-draft trip river safety class, your feet might hit the river bed, which is quite dangerous.

The bottom is made of uneven, disjointed rocks, and your foot may get stuck.

You could also be swept away from the inflatable raft and with nothing to hold on to.

It’s also possible that you’ll start to swallow large gulps of water as you constantly go under the water and then come back up.

However, in such a dangerous situation, the key to survival here is resilience. Try to hold on to your senses and follow these steps.

  • Grab on to the side of the boat as soon as you are thrown off. Try to hold on to the rope extending along the length of the raft as it is the easiest thing to hold.
  • Remember two words, ‘nose and toes.’ Keep your nose above the surface level so that you can breathe and are not drinking river water. The same goes for your toes. They must be visible over the surface so that they don’t get caught in the river bed.
  • If you find yourself plunged away, first get your toes up and facing downstream. Then, use your arms to turn towards the raft and maneuver your way to the boat. This position is known as defensive swimming.
  • If you are within 75 feet of the boat, a rescue rope will be thrown your way. Put it over your shoulders and keep a firm hold on one end. Make sure you stay on your back as being pulled in on your stomach just means that you’ll end up swallowing river water.
  • Once you reach the vessel, help the guide get you back on board. You can do that by making sure you face the raft during the rescue operation. This way, once you’re halfway up, you can look for something else to grab and pull yourself up. It also helps distribute the weight as you can let the weight fall on your belly.
  • Do not attempt to stand up unless you are absolutely sure you are near the shore. Getting there may prove quite challenging. A river generally has some calm sections that you can take advantage of. Utilize those breaks to guide your way to the shore.
  • Once at the shore, signal that you are okay and need to be picked up. The guide can arrange for transport that can take you back to base camp.
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Why Is It Not Advisable To Go Rafting for Non-Swimmers?

Why Is It Not Advisable To Go Rafting For Non-Swimmers?

Non-swimmers tend to panic when thrown overboard in fast currents.

They tend to flail around, which can become a threat to their lives and to that of their rescuer. In such situations, guides often have to knock the panicking person out to save both their lives.

Swimming lessons teach you more than just how to maneuver through the water. Through swimming, a person learns how to remain calm when they come in contact with cold water.

Often, our body becomes too numb to do much, which is why a person must know how to do a deadman’s float.

It also teaches you how to bounce with the water’s current and still be able to maintain as much control as the situation allows.

Rafting for non-swimmers, while possible, is nothing short of a gamble, which is not advisable at all.

Conclusion

All year long, many people go rafting without major incidents.

However, it is always a good idea to do some research before you undertake a new sport.

Knowing what you are up against helps when it comes to tackling emergencies.

As far as rafting for non-swimmers goes, it is not advisable to participate in the sport regularly without the necessary swimming skills.

At the very least, a rafter must know how to do the dead man’s float and how to maneuver their weight in the water.

Is Rafting Safe for Non-Swimmers

rafting for non-swimmers

Rafting might very well be the ultimate water sport. It is the perfect balance between thrilling, adventurous, and leisurely.

It can be quite stimulating as it requires not only arm strength but also proper balance and significant leg work to keep the boat upright, which is why rafting for non-swimmers might not be a good idea.

While it’s a thrilling sport, rafting is also quite dangerous. Steering a raft through tumultuous waters is not exactly a piece of cake.

It requires strength, resilience, teamwork, and skill. In case the raft comes up against an unexpected obstruction in the river, it may even topple over.

Here is where you need to rely on yourself for rescue, and this is where your swimming skills can help you make it through.

Swimming Requirements for Different Rafting Levels

Swimming Requirements For Different Rafting Levels

There are a total of 6 levels of river rafting. Each level marks the level of difficulty as determined by the river rapids.

Even though we’ve already established that swimming is critical for survival when you’re out rafting, most river rafting companies do take non-swimmers out on comparatively calmer waters.

Up until level three, basic swimming is preferred but not an absolute necessity. It is possible to go rafting even if you cannot float.

As per safety requirements, all rafters must wear life jackets that can help keep them afloat while the instructor arranges an extraction.

The first three levels are considered softer waters.

Participation from each member is not a must on these trips, which is why even novices can join a group without posing any danger to the other participants.

However, as the ranking increases, the water becomes more challenging. Level 4 and above falls under the hard water classification in which participation from each member becomes a must.

All members present on the boat must paddle together to be able to navigate the vessel through hard waters.

Out on such waters, river rafting companies do not accommodate non-swimmers as they may pose a threat to the safety of others.

Rafting on currents level 4 and above requires strength, skill, and experience.

New rafters have a higher chance of falling out on class 4 rapids. While many enjoy the dip in the water, it is also distressing experience.

Your survival depends on you, and being able to maintain a calm mind in such a situation is absolutely necessary. It is a life-saving skill that takes significant time to master.

Even though swimming is not a requirement for even class 3 rapids, we do not recommend rafting for non-swimmers even at that level.

It is best if they stick to level 2 at max and learn at least necessary survival skills before they go on a rafting excursion.

Can I Do White Water Rafting if I Can’t Swim?

Can I Do White Water Rafting If I Can't Swim?

White water rafting is just another name for river rafting. We do not recommend rafting for non-swimmers.

However, most companies do take even non-swimmers out for an excursion on calmer river waters that are classified as 1 or 2.

Some even accommodate them in class 3 rivers. However, it is more challenging than the other two and is thus riskier.

How Dangerous Is White Water Rafting?

The perceived danger level for each rafting trip depends on the classification level of the river’s rapids.

Death by drowning is the number 1 danger of river rafting, especially for non-swimmers.

They tend to panic, and their frantic movements let the river current get the upper hand, taking them under.

Rafting is a strenuous exercise, which is why overexertion is the second most common reason for deaths when rafting.

The sport entails prolonged exposure to heat and the sun. Combine the physical exertion with the relentless heat, and it becomes a severe health risk.

River water is almost always icy as it comes from melted snow or spring run-off.

If throughout the trip, the boat overturns, or you lose balance and tip over, the cold water seeping into your clothes sends shock waves down the body.

The sudden temperature change can lead to hypothermia. If allowed to remain in the water for extended periods, a person even runs the risk of losing their limbs.

Injuries are more common than deaths when river rafting. All river rafting companies deliver a pre-rafting training session that teaches all participants basic survival skills.

You can use the training to keep you afloat and survive. However, avoiding injuries is another thing.

Read Post  How cold is it at night rafting orange river

Once in the water, you will hit rocks, and that will hurt!

People who fall into the water often get out with severe cuts and bruises. Because rocks and other obstructions are part of the river, avoiding them is incredibly difficult.

Your raft my hit a rock, propelling all those aboard the vessel into the water. Non-swimmers can find such a situation very panic-inducing.

Their inexperience leaves them susceptible to mistakes, which could possibly lead to entrapment in the river bed.

What Happens If You Fall out While Whitewater Rafting?

What Happens If You Fall Out While Whitewater Rafting?

Falling out of your river raft will definitely not be the highlight of your rafting trip.

Being plunged into ice-cold water on a warm summer afternoon might be refreshing for the adventure seekers out there, for those who are experiencing whitewater rafting for the first time, it is quite a harrowing experience.

When you do fall out, the initial contact with cold water sends shock waves down the body. At that moment, control over the senses is most important.

The current will pull you along, and your waterlogged clothes will weigh you down.

The chances are that if you are entirely inexperienced and were inattentive during the pre-draft trip river safety class, your feet might hit the river bed, which is quite dangerous.

The bottom is made of uneven, disjointed rocks, and your foot may get stuck.

You could also be swept away from the inflatable raft and with nothing to hold on to.

It’s also possible that you’ll start to swallow large gulps of water as you constantly go under the water and then come back up.

However, in such a dangerous situation, the key to survival here is resilience. Try to hold on to your senses and follow these steps.

  • Grab on to the side of the boat as soon as you are thrown off. Try to hold on to the rope extending along the length of the raft as it is the easiest thing to hold.
  • Remember two words, ‘nose and toes.’ Keep your nose above the surface level so that you can breathe and are not drinking river water. The same goes for your toes. They must be visible over the surface so that they don’t get caught in the river bed.
  • If you find yourself plunged away, first get your toes up and facing downstream. Then, use your arms to turn towards the raft and maneuver your way to the boat. This position is known as defensive swimming.
  • If you are within 75 feet of the boat, a rescue rope will be thrown your way. Put it over your shoulders and keep a firm hold on one end. Make sure you stay on your back as being pulled in on your stomach just means that you’ll end up swallowing river water.
  • Once you reach the vessel, help the guide get you back on board. You can do that by making sure you face the raft during the rescue operation. This way, once you’re halfway up, you can look for something else to grab and pull yourself up. It also helps distribute the weight as you can let the weight fall on your belly.
  • Do not attempt to stand up unless you are absolutely sure you are near the shore. Getting there may prove quite challenging. A river generally has some calm sections that you can take advantage of. Utilize those breaks to guide your way to the shore.
  • Once at the shore, signal that you are okay and need to be picked up. The guide can arrange for transport that can take you back to base camp.

Why Is It Not Advisable To Go Rafting for Non-Swimmers?

Why Is It Not Advisable To Go Rafting For Non-Swimmers?

Non-swimmers tend to panic when thrown overboard in fast currents.

They tend to flail around, which can become a threat to their lives and to that of their rescuer. In such situations, guides often have to knock the panicking person out to save both their lives.

Swimming lessons teach you more than just how to maneuver through the water. Through swimming, a person learns how to remain calm when they come in contact with cold water.

Often, our body becomes too numb to do much, which is why a person must know how to do a deadman’s float.

It also teaches you how to bounce with the water’s current and still be able to maintain as much control as the situation allows.

Rafting for non-swimmers, while possible, is nothing short of a gamble, which is not advisable at all.

Conclusion

All year long, many people go rafting without major incidents.

However, it is always a good idea to do some research before you undertake a new sport.

Knowing what you are up against helps when it comes to tackling emergencies.

As far as rafting for non-swimmers goes, it is not advisable to participate in the sport regularly without the necessary swimming skills.

At the very least, a rafter must know how to do the dead man’s float and how to maneuver their weight in the water.

How to prepare for a whitewater rafting trip? Everything You Should Know

How to prepare for a whitewater rafting trip? Everything You Should Know

True whitewater rafting is about navigating that thin line between “having fun” and “wait, what just happened?” moments.

You get this out-of-body, mind-blowing experience that you can only understand first hand. And while a lot can potentially go wrong, most incidents are preventable.

Here, we’ll walk through how you can prepare for your next whitewater rafting trip – from a need-to-know pre-rafting workout and the vital equipment, you need to some pro tips.

Should you eat anything before (and during) whitewater rafting?

More than a few people may disagree, but I’m telling you straight up – you should eat a hearty breakfast beforehand.

Eating a protein-rich breakfast on the rafting day is the most crucial part of whitewater rafting preparation. A good amount of proteins and carbs is necessary because rafting is an intense activity. However, I don’t recommend consuming a lot of fats or filling your stomach either.

Truth is, movements can get restricted when your stomach is full, so I recommend keeping your breakfast at about 80% of your usual capacity. You can have anything rich in proteins and carbs, though, from steak, eggs, and hamburgers to tofu, tempeh, and hummus for vegans.

If you’re prepared, go ahead and plan meals ahead of time. Who doesn’t like a nice meal on river trips? Riverbent.com made an excellent guide on Raft Trip Meal Planning, so you can refer to that.

What workout / exercises should you do before?

Stretching your muscles is an absolute necessity if you’re about to do an activity as intense as whitewater rafting. Our muscles are short (tighter) by default. And we make them flexible and even strong by stretching before an intense activity.

Here’s what a good pre-rafting workout looks like:

Quick Guide: How to prepare for a whitewater rafting trip?

Stretching

Step 1: Stretch

Stretch all of your limbs for at least 5 to 10 minutes slowly, but avoid straining your shoulders while pedaling or getting leg cramps. The purpose is to stretch your muscles as far as they can go without injuring yourself.

Step 2: Exercising Your Torso

Next, you want to focus on building your upper body strength. This is especially true if you’re shooting for class III, IV, or V rapids. These rapids require a ridiculous amount of upper body strength for navigation.

For now, you can start by doing exercises like pushups, pullups, and chest presses. The most crucial factor in step 2 would be your form. People tend to focus on reps or sets instead of form, which is terrible if you want to build your muscles evenly without getting hurt.

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Step 3: Exercising Your Core

The core is typically exercised in two ways – strengthening and balancing. Your primary focus is strengthening, and the best way to strengthen your core is by doing planks. Try out different planks, like side planks and switching things up between sets. You can also do yoga to balance your core.

Step 4: Exercising Your Lower Body

You’d think that you don’t need as much lower body strength as you do upper strength, but it’s actually the opposite. Your lower body is what provides the support and balance you need to pedal the raft.

Build leg (especially calf) muscles by doing sets of lunges and squats. Feel free to include weight balls in your leg workout.

Step 5: Building Endurance

Endurance building is the easiest of all. Just go for a run, bike ride, or swim at a convenient time during the day to build endurance.

Step 6: Post-Workout

Finally, consume some protein and stretch to end your workout.

You can adopt all of the above exercises as your daily workout routine to strengthen your body. But on rafting day, just do them at minimal intervals.

And, of course, discuss all of these exercises with your gym trainer to avoid injury.

What to pack and wear on a whitewater rafting trip?

The rafting season is in the summer for obvious reasons. Still, some people prefer going during the spring or fall to avoid crowds.

Your choice of clothing for whitewater rafting depends entirely on the lake’s weather conditions during your trip. You’ll want to wear caps and woolen clothing during winters and any non-cotton clothes in summer. A swimsuit and water-resistant clothing (wetsuit) are necessary for any season.

1. Common Items

Here are some items you’ll need regardless of the weather:

  • Sun protection: Sunscreen and a covered shirt are, of course, the best protection against UV rays. You should also wear protective hats and polarized sunglasses or sunglasses with built-in UV eye protection (Sun Protection Factor).
  • Use sunscreen with at least 25 SPF. Be sure it’s water-resistant, so it doesn’t dissolve in the water.
  • Swimsuit: Always bring a swimsuit on your rafting trips. You may want to take a dip if the opportunity arises.
  • Bug spray: You probably won’t need it during the trip, but you may want it before and after if you’re hanging out alongside the river.
  • Paddling Jacket: No explanation needed.
  • Wetsuit: Wearing a waterproof layer underneath is probably the best thing you can do to keep yourself comfortable. I recommend going with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating above 30.

Avoid wearing clothing made of cotton. Instead, go with woven fabric such as wool, fleece, polyester, or any other fabric that dries quickly and doesn’t soak up water.

Pro Tip: Keep extra towels with you. Also, leave jewelry and other accessories at home. Only take belongings that you’re comfortable leaving behind while you’re rafting.

Quick Guide: How to prepare for a whitewater rafting trip?

Whitewater Rafting

2. Clothes To Wear In Summer

During summer, you only need a half-sleeved t-shirt and shorts along with a wetsuit for your whitewater rafting trip. You can either wear river sandals or tennis shoes (preferable).

3. Clothes To Wear In Winter

During winter, you should wear a woolen cap, sweater, and woolen socks along with a wetsuit and tennis shoes for your whitewater rafting trip. You can also wear woolen or polyester or fleece bottoms instead of shorts if it’s more comfortable in colder temperatures.

What other equipment do you need while rafting?

Here’s every other piece of equipment you’ll need on your trip besides a raft and oars (with paddles).

  • Life Jacket: Even if you’re the best swimmer in your group, you’ll still need a life jacket because of the strength and speed of whitewater waves.
  • Rafting Helmet: Because you gotta protect your think tank.
  • Repair Kit: Keep a raft repair kit if you don’t have a guide and are organizing the trip yourself.
  • First Aid Supplies: Just in case.
  • Water Bottle: Water is more important than food. Bring the maximum amount you can carry without it becoming a burden.

1. How to use the paddle?

You can’t go whitewater rafting without learning how to paddle.

The correct way to use the rafting paddle is to keep one hand on the shaft at the base of the paddle. Hold the end of the shaft over the “T” grip with your other hand and then paddle. Make sure you maneuver it correctly so that the T grip doesn’t bounce back and hit you.

Is rafting safe for non-swimmers?

In short, yes and no. Let me explain.

While you can go on whitewater rafting if you don’t know how to swim, I suggest you learn the basics of swimming first. Don’t overestimate PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices) or “life jackets,” they’ll help you float but not swim. Though non-swimmers can go to class I or even class III rapids with a PFD.

Is there a weight limit for whitewater rafting?

There are no hard and fast rules or specific laws, but your weight still matters on whitewater rafting trips. Rafts are built to hold a tremendous amount of weight, but limits still exist.

The weight limit for most whitewater rafting companies is between 90 to 275 pounds, and even that’s variable. However, your weight itself matters less than your physique and overall health to ensure your safety. The weight limit ensures you’re fit for the raft and can use the safety equipment as well.

What confuses most people is that you can be perfectly healthy yet still be ineligible for rafting. At the same time, medically unhealthy and overweight individuals might be eligible. It seems arbitrary, but it’s not.

Quick Guide: How to prepare for a whitewater rafting trip?

Chattooga River | Source: YouTube

The truth is, your weight matters less than your volume (physique). Basically, you need to pass two conditions for eligibility:

  • Can you fit into the safety equipment properly?
  • Do you have enough strength, endurance, and flexibility while being overweight to handle your position in the raft?

Pro-Tip: Always Listen To Your Guide

Ask as many questions as needed when shopping for a rafting guide (or an outfitter). Make sure they’re licensed professionals. And once you’re done, let the pros do their job so you can have fun and stay safe without worrying too much.

You’re now more than prepared to face any surprises on your next whitewater rafting trip. Now just let the good times roll.

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I got into extreme sports about 20 years ago and am a die-hard adrenaline junkie. Just like in business, I choose my outdoor adventures based on how much they scare me. My goal is to share the lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of decades braving the unknown to encourage you to do the same.

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Source https://raftthecanyon.com/rafting-for-non-swimmers/

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