Because outrigger canoe paddling is a water sport, it is imperative that you know how to swim. There is always the chance that your canoe will flip over (huli) during practice or a race, and your coach and fellow paddlers need to feel comfortable that you can take care of yourself if that happens. You should not feel embarrassed if you cannot swim—but it is critical that your coach knows if you cannot. This is for your own protection and the protection of your crew.
Learning what to do when you huli will be a part of your training. Each paddler has a certain responsibility if the canoe goes over, and as in paddling, the better you work together as a team, the faster the job goes and you can be back on your way more quickly!
Paddling in the cold waters of Northern California adds another very important safety element that you must educate yourself about. Dressing appropriately for the conditions is a first step. The following link to the video titled, “Cold Water Boot Camp” provides some great information on what happens to the body when exposed to cold water www.coldwaterbootcamp.com. As you will see, drowning from “cold shock” can happen much quicker than hypothermia.