Kayaker in holeRyan CrearyMost kayakers have probably heard solemn advice about what to do if caught in a hole—a recirculating hydraulic. The water just keeps spinning around and around on the top of the hole, the theory goes, so to escape you need to dive deep to where the water is flushing downstream. And to do that you need to take off your PFD.

Good theory, but bad practice, says Mike Desrocher of Water Ice Rescue Training, based on Ontario’s Madawaska River. “Let’s say you get out of the hole, then what? You’ve taken a beating in the hole and now you’re in aerated water, swimming the rest of the set with no PFD.”

Better to stay in the hole, breathe when you can and hope the hole’s chaos will eventually spit you out below the return line. Improve your chances by balling up very small to offer less in the way of flailing appendages that the recirculating water can grab.
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