2-day Basic Swiftwater Rescue

2-day Basic Swiftwater Rescue

Geared toward the novice to intermediate paddler, our 2-day Basic Swiftwater Rescue Course is based on a curriculum developed by the American Canoe Association, and is designed to teach both river rescue techniques and safe river-running practices in all river craft.

Our emphasis is on judgment and managing river rescue situations, as well as river rescue techniques that can be performed with a minimum of equipment. Rescuing swimmers and pinned boats will is covered. Participants should have some familiarity with whitewater.

This season we will be offering the 2-Day Basic Swiftwater Rescue Course once per month June through October with two offerings in July.   Use the availability widget below to find individual clinic dates.

Want to do this course as a with your own group?  Check out our information on custom clinics and when you're ready we will help set-up a great course on your dates.

Price: $270.00 per person includes all equipment, instruction, catered, picnic-style lunch and transportation from our base to and from the paddling sites.

What To Expect & How to Prepare

Goal of the clinic:

To teach rescue techniques and prudent river running practices to boaters in all types of whitewater craft.

Class Size:

Instructor-to-student ratio: 1:6.  Maximum clinic size: 12

Who should take the clinic:

Rafters, Canoers or Kayakers who are comfortable in at least class II whitewater. Our minimum age for this clinic is 14.

What will be covered:

This clinic takes a hands-on, in-the-water approach to teaching river rescue and safety skills. Specific skills covered include aggressive swimming, swimming at strainers, wading rescues, rescuing a foot entrapment victim, unpinning boats, using tag lines, z-drags, and zip lines, and using a rescue lifejacket. Our emphasis is on judgment and managing river rescue situations, as well as rescue techniques that can be performed with a minimum of equipment.

Trip Details

A Typical Paddling Day:

The usual day lasts from 9:00 AM to about 5:00 PM. Keep in mind that you will be spending most of both days either partially or fully immersed in cold water. Please plan to dress accordingly.


You will spend most of your time out of your boat but we suggest you bring your own boat and paddling gear. If it is more convenient for you to use one of our boats, or if you are interested in trying a particular model, we can try to accommodate you. Please let us know if you need a specific boat at least a week or two in advance. To get used to using your own equipment, we recommend you buy some basic rescue gear before this course (unless you already own it). Some equipment you will want includes: 3 locking carabiners, 2 prussik loops (5mm accessory cord, 6 feet long tied in a loop with a double fisherman's knot), rescue knife and throw bag. The accessory cord used for the prussik loops should be smaller in diameter than your throw rope. As a guideline use 6 mm accessory cord for 3/8” rope, use 7 mm accessory cord for 7/16” rope and use 8 mm accessory cord for ½” rope. If you aren't sure what to get, you can buy these items here during your clinic.

Learn Your Knots:

It helps to review the following knots so we can get straight to rope set ups: figure 8 on a bight, half hitch, trucker's hitch, prussik, double fisherman, and water knot. You can learn these knots from any number of books.

Read Ahead:

A couple of books that we recommend are: Whitewater Rescue Manual by Walbridge and Sundmacher, and River Rescue by Bechdel and Ray.

What time does the clinic start?

8:30 a.m. the first morning: the clinic will start on time, so please be prompt.

What is the water temperature?

The Deerfield River is always cool, regardless of the time of year or air temperature. When packing your paddling clothes, please plan for how cold the water can be here, especially if you are coming early or late in the season (April, May, September and October).

What do I wear?

While we will provide a wetsuit, spray jacket, and booties, we strongly encourage you to come prepared with synthetic long underwear and (early/late season) a fleece or wool jacket/sweater.  If you have your own wetsuit or drysuit, you should bring it.  We will be spending lots of time in the water, so gloves and an insulative beanie are also a good idea.  Cotton is one of the worst fabrics you can bring because it holds the moisture next to your skin, which will cause you to become chilled. When we talk about synthetic long underwear, we are referring to garments made of polypropylene, capilene or some polyester/spandex blend, as long as no cotton is part of the mix. This type of fabric wicks moisture away from your skin, causing you to stay warmer and drier. This long underwear is worn under your wetsuit. You may want fleece or wool socks to wear inside your booties. On very hot days, you may be content with just a bathing suit under your wetsuit, but you should still come prepared for cold or rainy weather since our clinics go rain or shine.

You should bring your own pfd, helmet and other river gear.

What does Zoar Outdoor provide?

Each person should have a throw rope, 3 locking carabiners, 2 prussiks and any other rescue gear you normally carry with you.  Zoar Outdoor will provide any of this gear if you do not have it.  While we do not spend much time in boats on this class, you are welcome to bring your own boat or use ours.  We also will provide, pfd, helmet, paddle and sprayskirt if you need it.

We provide a catered picnic-style lunch on all our clinics.  Typical lunches include homemade rolls, sliced turkey, ham or other meats, sliced cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, chips, salsa, hummus, pasta or other salad, cookies or other dessert and hot and cold drinks.  

The following statement is required by state law: "Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy."

We do not use nuts in our food, but can not guarantee that the ingredients in our meals do not contain nuts or other food allergens. If you have food allergies or other special dietary needs, we strongly suggest you bring your own bag lunch in non-glass containers and we will pack it with the other lunches on your trip. Please inform our office at 800 532-7483 or info@zoaroutdoor.com if you intend to do this.

What other stuff should I bring?

You should bring sunscreen, a towel and a nose clip if you use one.  If you wear glasses, you will want a glasses retaining strap to keep them on your head when you swim. 

Do I get a discount in the shop?

At the start of your clinic you will get two shop discount cards good for two weeks from the date of your clinic. One card entitles you to 10% off accessories in our Outfitters Shop. The second card entitles you to a $50.00 discount off a boat purchase. All boat purchases come with free outfitting and 10% off accessories in the Outfitters Shop for the next year.

Does the bathhouse have showers?

At the end of your day, you may want to take a shower. We have coin-operated showers in the changing rooms - you will need quarters to take advantage of them.