How To Do Kayaking Without Knowing Swimming

Do You Need To Know How To Swim To Kayak?

One of the best ways to spend a hot afternoon in the summer is by kayaking. You do not need to be a perfect swimmer to go kayaking. However, you have an added advantage if you have the basics of swimming. You will have more experience, and you will be more confident. The knowledge of swimming is essential in case of tipping; you can swim back to your kayak or shore. In this article, you will learn how you can go kayaking without necessarily knowing how to swim.

Will kayaking help you learn how to swim?

A kayak will help you overcome some challenges you experience when learning how to swim. When paddling, numerous muscles in your body are engaged. These muscles include: back, shoulders and core. These are the same muscles you need when swimming or when learning how to swim.

Kayaking also strengthens your muscles, and strong muscles help you learn different swimming strokes easily. When you know how to kayak and start enjoying the sport, you will be interested in learning how to swim and improve your swimming skills to explore different waterways.

How dangerous is kayaking to someone who can’t swim?

When kayaking, there is a high probability of tipping and your kayak capsizing. So it can be hazardous for a person who doesn’t know swimming or floating on water.

Kayaks capsize even in calm water, so there can be an accident anytime you must choose despite the type of water you choose. Without the knowledge of swimming, most people tend to panic and cause a serious accident.

Below are tips on kayaking for a non-swimmer.

  1. Choose a Calm Moving River:  If you are a beginner, you must choose a slow-moving river. Tipping may occur, so in a calm moving river, you can easily save yourself. Also, ensure the river is not too deep. Avoid ocean kayaking at all costs or white water paddling.
  2. Overcoming the Fear of Water: When paddling, the most important thing is having a clear familiarity with the water. If you don’t know how to swim, you may panic when you touch water or when your boat capsizes, leading you to act irrationally. Therefore, if you realize you have a fear of water, practice in calm water until you are comfortable in the water.
  3. Wear a Personal Floatation Device: PFDs ensure that you float in water even in extended periods. Therefore, even if you don’t know swimming, you are assured of your safety if your kayak capsizes. If you fall out of your kayak, you can also get back in your kayak easily. However, you need to ensure that your PFD fits properly and is functioning perfectly. If you have a tear in your PFD learn how to fix it. 
  4. Get a Competent Guide: When you go kayaking with a guide or experienced instructor, they will direct you on what to do if your boat capsizes. There are two self-rescuing techniques. One is the sweep roll the other one is the water exit technique. The sweep roll technique enables you to flip your kayak back to the water surface after it capsizes without getting out of the kayak. The water exit technique allows you to leave the kayak after it flips over and grab it to ensure your safety. A good and experienced guide will direct you on how to get back to the kayak even if it is filled with water. So even without knowing how to swim, you can go kayaking; you just need to understand how to take action in case of an accident.
  5. Paddle with a partner: Going kayaking alone if you are a non-swimmer can be dangerous. If you cannot afford a guide, then you can tag a  friend along. Get a person who will help you paddle. You will enjoy more having a company with you and in case of any troubles, you will have a paddler who can help you work through it. However, you need to choose a partner who has experience paddling or someone better than you. Do not try to use a two person kayak all by yourself. 
  6. Using a Leash: Leashes are not very popular among kayakers. They are used mostly by surfers and those involved in paddleboarding. Paddle leashes are designed to keep your paddle attached to the kayak at all times. The surf leash, on the other hand, ensures that you secure yourself to your kayak. This ensures that your kayak cannot float away if it tips or capsizes. However, the use of a leash is only recommended in flat water since there is minimal risk of the kayak pushing you to unsafe grounds. When purchasing a leash, you need to get what will work best for you. There are different types of leashes. The most common leashes are those designed to Velcro around your ankle or calf. The other type of leash is the one that you can wrap around your waist. The ankle leash is easy to take off; when the kayak pushes you to unsafe waters, you can remove it easily. The waistband is a little challenging to remove. The downside of the ankle leash is that it adds extra weight to the kayak. So, your ankle can be pulled by the kayak resulting o you being insecure.

Where can non-swimmers go kayaking?

For a beginner or non-swimmer, you need to be careful about where you choose to go kayaking. For a non-swimmer, the best place to go swimming is in shallow water.  A kayak will float in shallow water provided it is not overloaded, and the water is deep enough to allow you to paddle easily.

Most beginners and non-swimmers usually start in shallow rivers and streams where they know they can easily stand when getting off the kayak. It is also essential to note that even shallow waters have strong currents, so practicing in these shallow waters for a long time will help you gain experience in ocean kayaking and paddling in moving water.

If you are just a beginner, paddling in moving water can knock you down if you exit your boat. It also gets difficult to maneuver because of strong currents. You also need to be careful on the part of the river and lake you choose and avoid being swept off to deeper grounds. Another piece of advice do not go kayaking if you have a bad knee that might get hurt again during paddling if you are not careful. 

How easily do Kayaks tip?

Kayaks can tip over in any water type.  However, tipping in moving water is more common than in calm waters. Also, the kind of kayak will determine the possibility of tipping. With the correct type of kayak, you will avoid and minimize the chances of tipping. A wide kayak is usually securer than a slim kayak. A wide base distributes weight more effectively.

Before kayaking, monitor the weather and the water conditions since this will prevent the possibility of tipping. Another leading cause of tipping in a kayak is entering and exiting the kayak.  It would help if you learned how to enter and exit your kayak without tipping the boat over. Also, make sure you are wearing a PFD for proper safety.


Whether you are a good swimmer or not, you do not need to be left out again during kayaking sessions. You can participate in kayaking even if you are a non-swimmer. From the article above, you only need to ensure that you follow the guidelines given and practice in shallow water to ensure your safety.

Overcome all the fear and take up the bold step and go kayaking; you will not only enjoy the sport, but it’s a perfect way to relax and spend time with your friends.

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