Prepare to swim

You may find yourself in the river without benefit of a raft between you and the water, either because the guide has said you're in a safe rapid to "swim" or because strong turbulence has bounced you overboard. Either way, follow some basic safety guidelines and you'll make the most of it.

Keep your head and feet up. Lift your legs in front of you so your body is parallel to the surface; this will prevent your feet from getting caught on rocks beneath the surface and provide a shock absorber if you collide with a boulder or log.

Face downstream. You need to see where you're going, and if there are waves, you can time taking a breath between them.

Stay toward the middle of the river. The water is deepest there. Use your arms in a backstroke motion to steer if necessary. If your raft is out of sight, guide yourself toward a calm spot where you can safely float and wait for assistance.

Listen to your guide. He or she will tell you when to approach the raft and on which side, then will haul you in.