At Keener's each week Beatdown Thursday is pretty notorious and if you haven't heard about it you probably haven’t heard of Phil's Hole, which is a gigantic hole on the Ottawa river in Ontario, Canada. Phil’s is unique because it is very retentive on one side, right side, and not quite as retentive on the other, left side. I was absolutely terrified of Phil's. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it so to say I was a little shocked when we all were going to swim it is a understatement!
I was incredibly nervous but I knew that it would flush me through. My only goal for swimming the rapid was to avoid Phil’s. I was swimming to the lip of McCoy's when I was suspecting I would be in the complete clear of Phil’s. Oh how much I was wrong. Instead of avoiding Phil’s I went straight through the middle of left side and felt something hard brush against me. This was one of those moments where I remembered Stephen telling me it was relatively shallow around Phil’s and I realized that I had just hit bottom. Have you heard of hitting rock bottom? Yeah it was like that just in real life no metaphor, just being swept down the river and sinking to the bottom. After that it took me a little longer than expected to resurface and I started to panic. Once I surfaced I continued to swim quickly to shore! I was scared I would get sucked down by the whirlpools in whirlpool eddy, I was scared I would miss whirlpool eddy, I was scared of all of these ridiculous things that probably wouldn’t ever happen. That was the moment that more than ever was I thankful to be wearing a PFD/lifejacket.
That in itself was a learning experience because I noticed how much negativity impacts me. I thought of all of these negative points that didn’t change the moment. Had I focused and given Phil’s and Football eddy my game face maybe I would have had a different line or a different perspective and maybe I would of had a different outcome. One that enjoyed that rapid, one that wasn't scared of swimming, and one that was confident paddling into right side. Negativity took advantage over me so I couldn't focus on the task at hand. So once we finished swimming Phil's I became frustrated, angered, relieved, and excited because I had just did the worst thing that could possibly happen to me and very angry and confused for the same reason. I was so nervous that I became mad because I did the worst thing that could happen during beatdown Thursday (swim out of my kayak) and I was fine. Sure I might have panicked a little but it wasn't the end of the world.
So now I knew that I had no excuse for why I couldn't go surf Phil’s. Which made me even angry. So we ferried across to the other island and I decided to watch my friends get beatdown. And the crazy thing is at the end of every beatdown they would have a huge smile on their face. Some might have coughed out some water but once their lungs were filled with oxygen rather than water that huge smile appeared. So after talking to one of my coaches, Clay Wright, for a long time to analyze the rapid I decided that it was my time to go surf left side.
I went and I dropped in the far left corner and caught the wave for maybe two seconds and flushed. Then, I decided that it wasn't that bad and I should go into left side again. So after running safety for a couple of minutes I walked back up to get a “better” beatdown. This time I caught the gut of left side and got window shaded and flushed. Now maybe this isn’t the best beatdown story in the history of beatdowns but it is what everyone goes through before they warm up to surfing right side. And I think that the impressive thing with keeners is that no matter what you feel comfortable with or you skill level there is something for you to do to challenge yourself.
This was originally posted on the Ottawa Kayak Schoot Keener's youth kayaking camp blog written by Abby Holcombe.Great lessons to learn for anyone any age.