Have you taken you taken a skydiving water training course? Okay, so fair enough if you hold a USPA B license, you are probably thinking, “well duh of course, hasn’t everyone?”. Well, did you know that some federations don’t actually require the same basic water training course that the USPA requires? Its true! In fact, when I got my B-license with the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association (CSPA), I did not have to complete a water landing course. Due to the fact my drop zone was not close to a body of water, I only had to learn the skills in theory.

Flash forward to 5 years in the sport and around 650 jumps. My home drop zone is now right beside the sea and countless water canals throughout the city we jump over. I figured it was about time I took a real, hands on water training course. So along with my German licensed boyfriend (who has close to a 1000 jumps), and some A-licensed jumpers, we spent the afternoon hoping into the pool learning techniques and procedures for a water landing. Its never to late to educate yourself as much as possible in our sport. Even as somewhat experienced jumpers, we learned valuable, potentially life saving information at our water training course!

Water training with Alter Ego

Here at Skydive Empuriabrava, we are lucky to have Alter Ego’s Tim Parrant located here. Tim is the creator of the water training course which is now offered by Alter Ego. He is also the instructor who hosts the water training courses at Skydive Empuriabrava. In this post I am going to share with you both my experience, and some feedback from Tim himself!

This water training is newly added to the list of courses offered by Alter Ego, and they are very excited to be able to offer the course worldwide! In fact, cool enough, just recently there was a special skydive jump over the Nile river in Egypt. Tim was able to host a water jump refresh briefing for the skydivers, which was based on the course that Alter Ego provides.

“I am always looking for ways to improve our sport, and one thing that baffled me was the serious lack in proper water training! When I read fatality reports from skydive, paragliding and BASE, I would think, could this have been prevented? Did the person have all the correct knowledge to give the best chance of survival? So I wanted to provide people with the best knowledge possible for prevention and reaction.” – Tim Parrant, Alter Ego Instructor, on why he created the water training course

Water training skydiving
Photograph of Alter Ego’s Curt Bartholomew flying over the Nile – Tim Parrant

Why did I decide to take this training?

Yes, I have jumped near large bodies of water and received briefings. Although, I did not feel confident in knowing just the theory behind what procedures to take in case of a water landing. In my mind, I often created an imagine of being completely trapped and tangled within my canopy, unable to get out of the wet fabric. Also, recently I was thinking about transferring my skydiving license to USPA, and taking a water training course is a requirement.

With this requirement in my mind, and my awareness that I was not properly prepared for the event of a water landing, I signed up for a course. After taking the course, I left with a lot of knowledge from both the theoretical portion of the course, and the practise “water jumps”. I’m actually kind of ashamed of myself for not taking the step to educate myself earlier in my skydiving career. Not to mention the course is extremely affordable, and a lot of fun with your peers!

“Its never too late in your skydive career to take a new course. If you have never taken one, you don’t even have to mention it. You can just say you felt like doing a refresh since it’s been many years. You could even organize your skydive club to make a day of it. Training day with BBQ and drink in the evening!”. – Tim Parrant

What to expect

The water training course consists of some time in the classroom talking theory. As well as a practical portion, with hands on training, making “water jumps”. In the classroom it doesn’t take too long, maybe an hour at most. While the practical portion takes quite a bit longer, and this will also vary depending on the number of participants in the course. Dedicate an afternoon for the course, and don’t forget to bring a bathing suit and towel!

Water training course
Photo courtesy of Tim Parrant

In the class

During the classroom portion, Tim shows to us a power-point style presentation on the theory side of water landings. I found this part to be very beneficial. Tim not only gives us knowledge, he is able to provide examples of first hand experience he has faced with unintentional water landings. Tim is a very knowledgeable canopy pilot and instructor, so he is able to share with us the information with confidence.

In the classroom we learn about what skydivers do when making intentional fun water landings, such as the Blue Hole. As well, he goes over the different situations that can occur when a water landing is unintentional. Here we addressed some situations I never even considered. I truly hope that if the time ever comes, I can think back as calm as possible and remember what I learned from Tim. Absolutely I left the classroom already feeling more educated and confident than when I walked in. Next up, onto the practical!

Practise water jumps!

Now its time to get wet! We made our practise water jumps into a pool wearing an old skydiving harness and canopy. Both were kindly donated to Tim for use in his water training courses. Thank goodness we got a sunny afternoon, because here in Spain, it isn’t quite hot sunshine weather yet. And jumping into a pool this time of year can be a little chill!

During the water jumps, each participant will make 3-4 jumps into the pool with the skydiving harness on. Each jump will consists of different exercises. Some of the exercises include, loosening the chest strap and leg straps once in the water, and swimming out. We also performed jumps into the pool where the canopy was pulled over top of our heads, and we practised swimming out from underneath. In all the exercises we practised techniques which would allow for the best possible way to calmly and efficiently get ourselves out of the gear and into safety.

Alter Ego course
Photo courtesy of Tim Parrant

Closing thoughts

Personally, I would 100% recommend anyone to do a water training course.  Even if its just a refresher for you! For myself, having the opportunity to jump into the pool with the canopy pulled over top of me was great. Here I was able to get an idea of how things might look if I was ever in the event of a water landing. My anxiety over being wrapped up in the fabric was confronted, and I learned techniques to help save myself from this fate. I wont lie, I had a bit of panic when it was first pulled over, even though I was just in the pool! Surely if I was ever in the position of an unintentional water landing, I would be more stressed. Yet I left the course feeling really confident that I learned tools to properly react.

Creator and instructor Tim believes that even if you don’t have a body of water at your drop zone, you should still conduct correct water training theory and practical. You never know when someone is going to visit another drop zone, do a demo jump or land in an unexpected river. A lot of people will assume because they have thousands of jumps or tunnel hours, that they are equipped with all the knowledge. But this is false! There are many aspects to our sport, we should step up and educate ourselves in all areas. There is zero shame for a world class tunnel flyer taking a first level canopy course. Or vice versa, a veteran skydiver taking coaching from a tunnel instructor to learn a new discipline. This is what makes our sport so great! Everyone is approachable, you just have to ask.

Keep coming back

“Be prepared for the unexpected”, is a quote from Tim Parrant, Alter Ego Instructor.  I would like to end off with that quote today, because this is a reminder to not become complacent in skydiving!

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