Course Description

Whitewater enthusiasts participate in hazardous activities in wilderness environments. Are you prepared to rescue yourself or your best paddling friend?  Are they prepared to rescue you?  Help in many cases may not be immediately available, and might be hours, not minutes away. Sign up and bring your favorite paddling crew to this clinic. It’s like buying yourself, and them, the safety line that may save your lives.

​The Basic SWR Course, sponsored by Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts (APEs) is one in a series of swiftwater rescue courses offered through the American Canoe Association. The course is led by ACA certified swiftwater rescue instructors Jeremy Gass and Steven Adams and is designed to teach the recreational paddler basic swiftwater rescue techniques where limited personnel and/or safety gear is available. The clinic will include classroom instruction, river skills and realistic scenarios.  Successful completion of this course will prepare you to self-rescue and aid in the rescue of others in whitewater environments.


ACA Instructors: Jeremy Gass & Steven Adams

Assistant Instructor: Wesley R. Bradley

Course Prerequisites

All paddle craft are welcome.  Ideally, students should be able to competently maneuver their craft in at least class II whitewater.  However, all boaters, and non-boaters with an interest in swiftwater rescue (e.g., professional rescuers), will benefit from the class. Participants should be in good health and overall fitness, possess solid swimming ability, and be comfortable swimming in moving current during river drills.  Participants should dress appropriately for weather and temperature, and should expect to be in the water for extended periods of time.

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 its strengths and weaknesses
  • Utilize rescue scene management principles needed within a paddling group

Contact Steven Adams for more information:


Minimum Personal Equipment for Class

Type III PFD designed for whitewater use (Rescue PFD is recommended but not required), whitewater helmet, protective clothing suitable for extended swimming in cold water, protective footwear, boat, paddle, whistle, throw rope, 15+ feet of one inch tubular nylon webbing, 2 locking carabiners, and 2 prusick loops (2 x 6-8 feet pieces of 4-5 millimeter polypropylene cord)

WHEN: June 13th & 14th 2020
WHERE: 2000 Jonesborough Road
                  Erwin, TN


Course Overview

The Swiftwater Rescue Course 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.

Course Logistics

Who:      Adults and Minors 15 years and older (Parent/Legal Guardian MUST accompany minor and arranged ahead).  Instructors reserve the right to exclude anyone if they feel safety will be compromised.

When:    Saturday, June 13th 8:00am – 7:00pm (Saturday Evening Session TBD); Sunday, June 14th 8:00am – 5:00pm

Where:    Pyrahna Erwin Facilities/Lower Nolichucky River (2000 Jonesborough Road - Erwin, TN)

Cost:      $100; $85 if already an APEs member; ACA members can further deduct $5

Registration and payment deadline is 6/11/2020 (See Cancellation Policy in PDF Application)

Lodging Note:      These local businesses offer nearby lodging. Contact them directly to confirm availability.

USA Adventure Resort, Riverpark campground, Mountain Inn & Suites


Safety/Pandemic Response: Participant safety is our top priority and this SWR course is built around safety and risk mitigation.  As with any whitewater activity, this course presents some challenges and risks that must be accepted and will be mitigated through planning and skillful execution to the best of our abilities. These challenges and risks will be discussed at the beginning of this course, additionally the course will be modified as needed to ensure participant safety and adhere to CDC and local government guidelines.  Please feel free to contact the instructors to discuss this and any concerns you may have in more detail.  

APE's Basic Swift Water​ Rescue Course

Registration Information

There are two ways to register:

1. Online: Register online at After submitting your registration you will be directed to the riverapes PayPal page to pay for the course.  APEs (or TEHCC) membership is required to participate and can also be purchased online from the PayPal page for $15.  No need to fill out and send in a separate membership form.  Your online registration will double for that purpose.

2. Mail:  E-mail Steven Adams with your intent to register and a downloadable registration form will be sent to you. Mailing address and payment will be included in that e-mail and you can be instantly added to the active roster.  Those mailing in their registration can add the $15 annual APEs membership fee to their course payment.  No need to fill out and send in a separate membership form.  Your registration form will double for that purpose.

ONLINE NOTE: Courses not listed in Registration Course Menu are full.  Please contact Steven at to be placed on waiting list.

Questions: Feel free to contact Steven at 423-650-1293 or