Swiftwater Rescue

ACA L4 Swiftwater Rescue Course

Girls at Play is excited to offer ACA Swiftwater Rescue Courses!  In our almost 20 years of experience on the river it has come to our attention that women often hang back in rescue situations while men jump into action.  This trend can be attributed to various physiological and psychological differences between the genders, most noticeably  a lack of confidence in women.  Through creating a space where women are learning together, we create a supportive environment in which women develop and push their skills.  There is no hanging back in this course and when it’s done you will feel confident about your skills and ready to jump into action when needed!

We like to work with the best educators in whitewater and that is why we choose to work with Sam Folkes, American Canoe Association Advanced Swiftwater Rescue  Instructor Trainer Educator, Whitewater Open Canoe  Instructor Trainer Educator, SEIC Past Chair (2004-2007), Rescue 3 International Instructor Trainer, Adjunct Professor WCU Park + Recreation Management “water based sports,” NOLS WMI W-EMT, and Robin Pope, L5 Advanced Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer Educator, L5 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer Educator, L1 Canoe Instructor, Physician Assistant (PA-C) Fellow, Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) Instructor Trainer – CPR, First Aid and Wilderness First Aid. You will be tapping into many years of experience and knowledge in this course!

Course Prerequisites:

Paddlers should be able to competently be able to maneuver in class II rapids. However, all paddlers and non-paddlers interested in Swift Water Rescue will benefit from the class. Participants should be in overall good health and fitness, possess solid swimming ability, and be comfortable swimming in moving current during river drills.

Required Gear: (All participants must provide their own gear/ equipment).

PFD + helmet suitable for whitewater,  water footwear (no sandals), thermal protection – wetsuit, drysuit, (season + personal preference dependent), throwbag, 2 locking beaners, 1 prussik loop + 1 12’ 1 in webbing.  Boat if planning to participate in the boat based rescue module. Camping gear if camping.

Class Schedule

Day 1
6:00 – 6:45
Welcomes! Administrative concerns.  Logistics, site orientation, ACA waivers, medical information. Schedule, safety plans. Introductions of participants.
6:45 – 7:15
Rescue philosophy – order of protection, rescue sequence, successful building blocks of rescue. Scenario activity.
7:15 – 7:30
7:30 – 7:50
Equipment – personal + rescue specific gear
7:50 – 8:15
Hydrology – principles, features + specific hazards
8:15 – 8:30

Day 2
8:30 – 9:00
Ropes- history, materials, construction, tensile strengths, care
9:00 – 10:00
Knots – uses, types, efficiencies, characteristics. Figure 8 family of knots. Various knots with rescue uses.
10:00 – 10:40
Anchors + anchor systems – set up + practice
10:40 – 11:45
Mechanical advantage – uses, safety + set up. Simple + compound systems – student set up + practice
11:45 –12:15
Boat pins – causes, types, safety. Unpinning strategies.
12:15 – 1:00
Lunch break
1:00 – 1:15
River orientation, communication, equipment check
1:15 – 2:00
Rope management – throwing strategies, set up, deployment, belays + practice with swims
2:00 – 2:45
Wading strategies – uses, limitations, safety, types. Individual + group system practice.
2:45 – 3:00
3:00 – 4:00
Swimming strategies – uses, swiftwater entry, defensive + offensive positioning. Practice swims.
4:00 – 4:20
Rescue PFD – features, history, uses, safety issues
4:20 – 4:50
Contact rescues – victim types, considerations, safety + C-spine stabilization techniques
4:50 – 5:50
“Live bait” – tethered rescuer technique, uses, set up, safety issues
5:50 – 6:00
De brief activities
7:00 – 8:00
Scenario video viewing, discussion + analysis
Day 3
8:30 – 9:00
Medical considerations
9:00 – 9:30
Scene management – ICS systems, self-directed rescue, principles for paddlers + real world implications
9:30 -10:30
Line ferries + line crossings
10:30 – 11:30
Strainer strategies – water exercise
11:30 – 12:15
12:15 -1:15
Entrapment strategies – causes, prevention + solutions – simple hands on to complex rope systems
1:15 – 2:15
V lowers – rescuer on 2-point tether system. Uses, set up, safety + deployment
2:15 – 3:15
Boat based rescue – uses, advantages, safety considerations
3:15 – 3:30
Scenarios – set up, team meeting + planning
3:30 – 4:30
4:30 – 5:00
Scenario de briefing
5:00 – 5:30
Course evaluation
Graduation + certificate documentation
Fond farewell!
Thank you for your participation – go practice!
Safe travels!


Cost:  $250.00 – Includes primitive camping on site, Slim Ray’s book “Swiftwater Rescue for Professionals,” or “River Rescue” by Bechdel + Ray, 4th edition

Location: Tuckaseegee River, Dillsboro, NC

Call 828.333.4482
Email [email protected] or message us

Payment Options




Meet Anna Levesque

Anna Levesque is the leading expert on kayak instruction for women and yoga and wellness for paddling, including SUP Yoga. Named one of the most inspirational paddlers alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Anna’s twenty-plus years of experience as an accomplished international competitor and instructor has landed her in mainstream publications such as TIME, SHAPE and SELF magazine.

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