Yesterday it finally happened. We held our first Rolling Clinic at my family’s weekend lake home. The weather was perfect, bright sunshine, air temps in the 50’s and water temps that had risen considerably since the lake ice melted.

17 paddlers attended. Coming from as far away as Thunder Bay, Canada. We had arranged five of us to mentor and 12 mentees. We started with a brief cold water/hypothermia warning.Tony then walked them through the basic body position on dry land (I was his victim).

Prior to getting afloat we did some basic stretching; hamstrings, core, back, shoulders. We divided up into groups of three. One focused on static and sculling braces. Another focused on solidifying their Standard Greenland Roll. Another focused on norsaq and hand rolls. And the final group focused on forward finishing rolls.

We rotated mentors halfway through the morning so people experienced at least two different mentors.

We experienced many firsts. One paddler was able to static brace for the first time. One got their first norsaq roll. And two got their hand roll.

I found it interesting attempting to help three people simultaneously. In the static and sculling bracing group where they generally did not have a roll yet, they required closer attention to ensure they were safe, so it was challenging to keep them all engaged simultaneously.

Instead I found I was able to sequence through them and have them watch the paddler I was working with when it was not their turn for some one-on-one time. The more advanced groups were able to practice while I focused on an individual and so it felt more engaging. That said, no one complained they didn’t get enough attention.

All told I (and the other mentors) spent close to three hours in the (cold) water in dry suits and fleeces. I kept reasonably warm, at one point where I had to do numerous “hand of God” recoveries due to some bombed rolls my hands began to complain but other than that my smart wool, fleece and Gore-Tex did their job well.

I want to thank Jeff, Renee, Tony and Ron for volunteering their time to help out with this clinic. Additionally I would like to thank my wife and mum who prepared the great grub, and my father who acted as photographer. Based upon the feedback I have received so far I will be organizing additional rolling clinics throughout the year.

Many more pictures from the clinic are available here

Stumpy Lumpy - Transition Paddle
Roll of the week, #1 - Side Scull

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