Hold your breath a little longer?
A kayak builder on the first steps towards a reliable roll asked if a had any advice on learning to hold your breath a little longer. The reason for asking was that he could only do one or sometimes two failed rolls before running out of oxygene. He suggested this as a topic for the blog (thanks Jim!).
Somewhere I have read an article on holding-your-breath training. If training can buy 25% more time underwater it would be enough for one more try – and as the training probably results in a more relaxed practicing, maybe two failed rolls extra.
But wait a minute! Training to get more time to more failed attempts?
If you can do only one or two attempts you are probably missing two good points: you forget to grab a little air when your head is above water (even a failed roll normally means head above water – the pfd takes care of that – the problem with most rolls comes when the upper body is above water) – and you are streesed so you burn air at high speed. The simple solutions are:
- take a breath every time the nose is above water. That way you can roll repeatedly til you get bored.
- try to relax (easier said than done) – trust yourself to wet exit before things go seriously wrong. If you concentrate on doing the roll mechanics slowly and carefully, the oxygene supply will also last longer – while a roll hastily executed in sloppy half-panic rob you of both the success and the oxygene level.
A reliable emergency exit helps a lot. To practice in shallow water brings two advantages: you can get up with the hand on the bottom and you get a warning when the paddle dives. Another kayak close by can be used to get up when a roll fails (grabbing the stem or a paddle bridging the hulls). With a first reliable standard roll it is easy to go ahead with more difficult rolls – offside rolls, sculling rolls, stormroll, handrolls etc.
Practicing holding your breath is about learning to ignore the warnings signals from a body entering a dangerous state – just like traning to ignore increased lactate levels, but more dangerous.
And in this case – quite unnescessary.