One of the key things you’ll need for a river swimming adventure is an open mind and an ability to adapt and relish challenges, one big part of this is being quick to embrace new swimming techniques. There may be sections, especially near the source or upper reaches where you can’t swim your standard front crawl and will need to develop new river swimming techniques.
Here are 3 techniques we used (mostly in the rapids and deeper cascades) on the River Eden:
The Superman - This one is for shallow rapids and fast flowing sections with around 2ft of water. Stretch forward, headfirst, face underwater, both arms outstretched, acting as your guides. You then have to keep your body as horizontal as you can get it. Propel yourself forward and let the water take you using your arms like feelers to grab and catch boulders.
The Human Torpedo - This one is for for deep rapids and stronger currents. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is easily our favourite and the most fun technique. Stretch yourself out headfirst, face underwater, arms at your sides and legs straight. Hold your body completely still and trust the river - the flow will sweep you forward, at which point you can swivel your shoulders to change course.
The Lizard - This is a mixture of front crawl and breaststroke, reserved for when the river is very shallow. Use standard front crawl arm above the water, but pull back using a breaststroke motion while keeping your legs together and still. Breathe when you sight rather than to the side as for rapid swimming you need to know what’s up ahead.