ACA Swiftwater Rescue l4


Guide Training, Instruction


Multi Day






L4 Swiftwater Rescue Training

The American Canoe Association (ACA) Swiftwater Rescue Level IV workshop teaches recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and rescue techniques for paddlers in distress. Emphasis is placed both on personal safety and on simple, commonly used skills.

Techniques for dealing with hazards that carry greater risks for both victim and rescuer, such as strainers, rescue vest applications, entrapments, and pins, also are practiced. Scenarios will provide an opportunity for participants to practice their skills both individually and within a team/group context.

The American Canoe Association (ACA) Swiftwater Rescue Level 4 workshop teaches valuable boater safety skills that all whitewater paddlers will be able to put into practice; recognition and avoidance of common river hazards, execution of self-rescue techniques, and simple rescues of paddlers in distress.

We typically teach this as a 2.5-day course (a 3-hour evening session on Day 1, followed by two full class days). This hands-on (i.e. wet!) course includes land and water skills practice and scenarios and all participants should be prepared to be in and around the river environment.

Course Objectives

  • Promote proactive prevention of river accidents and injuries.
  • Develop and practice key self-rescue skills.
  • Identify and avoid river hazards by understanding hydrology, hazards, and river features.
  • Focus on fast, low-risk strategies for early management of river accidents.
  • Develop and practice methods for recovering swimmers, and loose boats and equipment.
  • Develop and practice more advanced rope-based and in-water skills.
  • Gain experience using the rescue PFD, and understand it’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Utilize rescue scene management principles needed within a paddling group.


During this course, we will spend time in Class I-II moving water. Boaters should be able to competently maneuver their craft in Class II rapids. Non-boater participants with an interest in swiftwater rescue are also welcome. Participants should be in overall good health, a confident swimmer, and able to hold their breath underwater. Participants should dress appropriately for weather and temperature, and should expect to be in the water for extended periods of time.

Person: Ages 16+