24 girls from 2nd Stebbing, 1st Dunmow, 1st Warley, 1st Nazeing, Ongar Senior section and 5th Gidea Park braved the rapids WHITE WATER RAFTING on the Lee Valley Olympic Legacy Course. A special booking of the legacy course allows girls from age 11 upwards to take part.
Everyone struggles into a full wetsuit and wet shoes then get given buoyancy aid and helmet. Forms are checked, safety briefing given and all equipment checked for a snug fit.
On to land drill, how to sit in the raft, where to put your feet, how to paddle, learn the commands, paddle forward, paddles up, lean right (or left) GET DOWN (sit in the bottom of the boat), paddle backwards - just hope you can remember them.
5 rafts ready with 5 girls in each and raft guide. all launched on the still pool for a first go at carrying out the commands and learning to paddle, practice working as a team.
NEXT everyone has to do the Swim test - Inch your way out on the wall and leap into the rapids making sure to float on your back, feet first until told to swim to the bank.
Back to your raft, 4 girls paddling with the 5th up front. On to the travelator and you're off. Paddle forward, lean left, DOWN, paddle right swirling and bouncing the raft rushes and splashes down the course, sometimes spinning in the eddies , all too soon the raft reaches the calm at the end of the course We made it!
BUT Its not the end, quickly swapping places and its off for the next run.
Cheered on by family, friends and the RNLI (they were there on a training course) all rafts make their way, jockeying for position, riding the stopper waves, GETTING SOAKED, some leaned left not right and the raft flipped, everyone got another swim. Banksmen threw life lines and shouted encouragement.
And it's off to run the rapids again - all in all we did at least 6 runs of the course.