Whitewater SUP Swimming and Recovery Tip

1. Assessing the Situation

When facing unexpected whitewater situations, it's crucial to assess your surroundings carefully. Mike stresses the need to evaluate your options, particularly if reaching the shore or your paddleboard before encountering a rapid seems impossible.

2. Whitewater Swimming Position

To stay safe during a fall in whitewater, Mike recommends assuming the whitewater swimming position. This position involves keeping your feet elevated—a fundamental rule to prevent foot entrapment in the river. By using your feet to brace against obstacles, you can navigate the turbulent waters more effectively.

3. Maintaining Control

Mike demonstrates the importance of never letting go of your paddle. Losing your paddle can complicate your rescue efforts, so it's essential to maintain control over it during a fall.

4. Utilizing a Leash

In this guide, Mike highlights the advantages of using a leash. He suggests having a reliable releasable leash system in place. Mike showcases how quickly a leash can help retrieve your paddleboard, significantly reducing recovery time. Our Recommendation: NRS Quick-Release Leash.

5. Recovery Technique

Mike outlines a step-by-step recovery technique. To start, he emphasizes the need to position yourself in the center of the paddleboard for a successful flip. By grabbing the center grab handle, you can exert more force when flipping the board. Mike advises using your paddle as a brace while regaining control of the board. With a combination of arm strength and leg kicks, you can swiftly return to your board.

6. Returning to Safety

Once back on the paddleboard, you have the option to either stand up and paddle downstream or, as demonstrated in the video, spin the board around and paddle back to shore. This flexibility ensures that you can adapt your approach based on the circumstances.


In conclusion, Mike Tavares emphasizes the importance of river safety awareness and preparedness. Remember to stay informed about whitewater conditions, practice the whitewater swimming position, secure your paddle, and consider using a leash to expedite recovery. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a safer and more enjoyable paddling experience on the river.

To reiterate a few key points from this tip:

  1. Never stand up in whitewater. Know your whitewater swim position and use it so you can avoid injury.
  2. Don’t let go of your paddle. If you let go of your paddle you’ll end up having to keep swimming in order to recover your paddle rather than getting back on your board safely.
  3. Make sure you have a releasable leash while on the river. This is key and recovery time goes down dramatically when a leash is utilized.

For more Whitewater SUP tips from Mike T, click HERE.

Last modified onTuesday, 05 September 2023 14:31
Mike Tavares

USA - Mike Tavares is the ultimate river expert. As a modern-day nomad, Mike travels throughout the North American Continent with his side-kick Shred-dog and they explore rivers and lakes at every chance they get. Mike has the knowledge and expertise of a river master that can only be obtained by years and years of experience.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/rivershred?fref=ts Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.