Learning to kayak starts in a pool or flat-water and safety training is required before participation in Team River Runner trips. A typical two-hour session for a new participant includes introductions, instruction on safety, equipment, paddle strokes and an informal race or game of kayak football. See pool session photos at the bottom of this page.
New TRR Participants: Please contact Jim Riley, email: Jim.Riley@TeamRiverRunner.org or phone: 610-836-1923 a day or two before a scheduled pool session to assure that we bring sufficient equipment. You may also fill out the Sign Me Up! web page to be placed on our email contact list.
The first in-water pool session for every new participant starts with a Water-Comfort Test which involves a participant laying face-down in water holding breath for at least 15 seconds and then rolling over face-up under their own power with feet raised. We then teach how to safely exit an overturned kayak (aka: wet-exit). Often a 15 minute group lesson will be offered. We ask everyone to participate in this first part of every session. We then divide into smaller teams to work on individual skills and finish the last half-hour with a friendly game of kayak football.
Contact and Release Form: All Team River Runner events are insured through Disabled Sports USA. First- time participants are required to complete a contact form and sign a liability waiver and media release. Click this link for an example of the form: Info/Liability/Media Release Form
Foremost, be aware that our pool time is generously paid for by donations intended to help wounded/recovering veterans and community disabled persons experience boating. We must honor that by assuring that our conduct is respectful, safe and on-mission. TRR pool session participation is by invitation only and the TRR chapter coordinator reserves the right to prohibit participation.
- Check event calendar (Events on top menu) for changes before coming out or call Jim (610-836-1923).
- Address and directions to the YMCA are below.
- We ask that you arrive at 3:30 pm to setup and change clothes so that the group is ready to get into the pool at 4 pm.
- Be ready to volunteer to do a team job such as paperwork handler, photographer, boat inspector, gear wrangler, mobility assistant.
- If you are bringing a boat, arrive after 4:00 pm, and the side gate is locked (security). Please do not inconvenience our YMCA hosts by asking to reopen it. Bring your other gear inside through the main entrance but leave your boat outside.
- Wear pool appropriate clothing like swimsuit or loose fitting shorts.
- The pool is heated but is often cool so a non-cotton, fleece or synthetic sweater/top that you don’t mind wearing in the pool is a good idea to bring.
- Minimum age for dependent children of current TRR members is 10 for training sessions. Periodically, we hold kids sessions. Check schedule or talk with coordinator.
- Bring a towel and set of dry clothes to change into afterwards! (changing rooms/showers are available.)
- If bringing your own kayak, it must be empty (no air-bags) and clean. Boats will be inspected. Please clean before you bring.
- We often finish the last half hour by dividing into teams and play a friendly game of kayak football for exercise.
- Sessions end at 6 pm.
- Help is always appreciated with setup, carrying and removal of boats and equipment. Jim’s house (where boats/gear is stored) is about 3 miles from the YMCA. Contact Jim to offer help.
- We encourage every participant to assist or become an instructor and as you learn, be willing to contribute your experience and ‘pay-it-forward.’ If anyone would like to offer a 15-minute class on a kayak paddling subject, please contact Jim during the week.
Our Winter schedule:
Alternating Sundays from 3:30-6:00 PM (please check event calendar) West Chester Area YMCA 605 Airport Rd West Chester, PA 19380
We utilize 4 lanes of a 10 lane heated, indoor competition pool.
Access to Pool:
Note: The YMCA asks that all participants first sign-in at the front desk before entering through pool side door.
- Upon entering parking lot, make 1st left after passing building.
- At far right of building, there will be an iron gate.
- Look for parking close to this gate. If gate is open, walk through and look for pool access door on side of building.
- If iron gate is closed or pool door is locked, Go into main entrance and inform that you’re with Team River Runner. The YMCA folks are very friendly and will guide you to the pool.
- If you arrive late, brought your own boat and find the iron gate locked, please do not ask the YMCA to reopen the gate! This is an inconvenience for the life guards and YMCA staff. You can still enter through the main entrance but you will not be able to bring in your boat