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Coach Taylor, lead kayaker

Kayak with us

Do you kayak and have swim support experience? We are in need of kayakers to act as swim pilots and support for upcoming events! We compensate all kayakers. Having your own kayak is a plus. We ask that if you would like to kayak with us to either bring or rent your own kayak, as we cannot guarantee that we will have spares available.

If you’re up for a beautiful early start in the San Francisco bay and ensuring the safety of and keeping the course for athletes and swimmers, we’d love to hear from you. You’ll be following the instructions of the kayak captain, keeping an eye on swimmers and triathletes as they make their crossings.

Rules and guidelines for kayakers

Kayakers' comfort in the water

As a paddler, you should be confident in wind chop and swells. If, when you paddle out, you find the conditions beyond your skill level, you should immediately notify the nearest other paddler or if you have a radio, contact your kayaker lead and/or the command vessel. If conditions force you back to shore without anyone knowing, go ashore and either report to a Water World Swim representative if available, or use a phone to call Water World Swim coaches on command vessel. You will be given the appropriate phone number in advance.

Remember that turning back is the honorable move – this not a time to learn to paddle; experience is necessary.

New regulation requirements

  • All kayak and SUPers must wear a PFD (personal floatation device, coast guard approved type 1, 2, or 3. Wetsuits are not considered a PFD. Traditional paddle boards powered by hand kneeling or lying down are exempt from PFD requirements.
  • All kayakers and SUPers must have a sound producing device, such as a whistle or air horn.

Swimmers in distress

After your personal safety, next is the safety of swimmers. It is critical that we scan the water constantly for signs that a swimmer may be in distress. Swimmers that stop often or have an irregular rhythm to their stroke should be watched carefully and if necessary talked to in order to determine the severity of the issue. They may simply be unhappy, don’t have their breathing under control, or they threw up or swallowed water, a mild cramp, or are simply cold. These swimmers may hold on to the front or back of your craft (never the side) until they are ready to resume. They will not be disqualified as long as you don’t tow them. Talk to the swimmer calmly and reassure them. This event should be fun and any pressure from participation should be relieved.

If you find a swimmer in distress, immediately paddle over and determine severity. By asking their name and the date, listening for slurred speech or incoherent answers, you can get a sense of hypothermia. Swimmers that panic and grab the side of your craft or have chest pain are perhaps injured by another swimmer’s kick or the jump into the bay, a debilitating muscle cramp, or asthma and need their inhaler. These swimmers need immediate medical attention.

This where you raise your paddle vertically and give three short blasts on your whistle. If you have a radio, call for medical assistance and give your location in the pack, front, back, or middle and at which side. Stay with the swimmer until the medical boat arrives, and only then rejoin the swimmers. If a paddle goes up without having a radio, the nearest paddlers should notify any paddler with a radio and report the paddle up sign. If a call goes out for a medical response, cease all radio traffic until the medical boat has located the swimmer and given the all clear.

Swimmers off course

Keeping the swimmers together provides the greatest safety for all, so if a swimmer strays off course, move slightly ahead and either bang your craft with your paddle or hand.  This will usually cause them to look at you in which case you point out the proper course with extended arm. If you have a new aim point for them and speak loudly but kindly, since many wear ear plugs, and ask if they can see the new aim point and continue to watch.

Often during swims as the swimmer tires, one side will be weaker and they begin to repeatedly hook right or left. In this case, note the side they breathe on and take a position where they see you on every breath and can self correct, otherwise be patient and continue giving course correction as needed.

In the rare event that a swim is canceled after it has begun, caused by forces of nature such as electrical storm or surf conditions, your role is to notify the swimmers to head to shore or the nearest boat – whichever is closest.  Your first priority is your own safety then the safety of all others.

Please respect all park rules while paddling. In the past we have used Alcatraz as a haven from wind and wave while waiting for our swimmers to arrive, but this no longer allowed.  We must maintain a 500 foot distance from this bird sanctuary to avoid park service violation.  Fines have been given to several swim organizations and we must avoid this for Water World Swim.

In the event of swim cancellation during the swim

In the rare event that a swim is canceled after it has begun, caused by forces of nature such as electrical storm or surf conditions, your role is to notify the swimmers to head to shore or the nearest boat – whichever is closest.  Your first priority is your own safety then the safety of all others.

Park rules and regulations

Please respect all park rules while paddling. In the past we have used Alcatraz as a haven from wind and wave while waiting for our swimmers to arrive, but this no longer allowed. We must maintain a 500 foot distance from this bird sanctuary to avoid park service violation.  Fines have been given to several swim organizations and we must avoid this for Water World Swim.

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