Do We Need to Know Swimming for Canyoning?
A person wearing a helmet, canyoning, getting ready to start swimming.

Canyons, canyoning, canyoneering… A stream of words that all seem to share the same base: a canyon. Often, canyons are synonymous with water. And water is often associated with swimming. Therefore, it’s only natural to ask: do folks need to know swimming for canyoning?

It’s a question that bugs the minds of many nature-lovers. Needless to say, we’ll try to provide you with an answer. Additionally, we’ll expand to cover some similar topics. For instance, what is canyoning and how does it differ from canyoneering? Also, how does one get into canyoning? Anyway, whether you know how to swim or not, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the text that’s below!

It’s not totally necessary to know how to swim before heading off on a canyoning adventure. However, keep in mind that it’s strongly recommended that you do know how to swim. Now, if you’re not a swimmer, you’ll have to rely on your wetsuit or any other kind of buoyancy aid. 

You can’t head off to your first canyoning adventure with only the preview stuck inside your mind. There’s much more you’ll have to carry!

What is canyoning? (and a bunch of similar questions)

In order to fully comprehend the scope of today’s article (this might be an overstatement, though), you’ll have to go through the basics first. That being said, let’s provide an answer to the most basic of basic questions: okay, so what is canyoning?

Okay, so canyoning is the activity of finding your way down a fast-flowing mountain stream in a gorge by utilizing many different techniques such as rappelling (and here’s where to find some extra info about it), climbing, sliding, swimming, hiking, and jumping. A person on a canyoning adventure can do all of these together, or just one of them. For instance, you’ve got canyoning expeditions that mostly revolve around hiking (the activity’s also called canyon hiking).

As one can guess, this activity is designed with the intent to help folks explore natural landscapes that aren’t so easy to reach. The main objective is to complete the journey from point A to point B using different ways and techniques. To give you an example of what we’re talking about: while you’re on a canyoning expedition, one minute you could be swimming through rock pools and the next one you might be trying to find your way up a cliff using your climbing equipment. Needless to say, it’s all too exciting.

Lastly, isn’t there an outdoor activity with a similarly-sounding name?

What is the difference between canyoning and canyoneering?

You’ll be glad to know there’s no difference between canyoning and canyoneering, they both represent the same thing. In other words: there are no new definitions you’ll have to learn today. Anyway, whether you’ll say canyoning or canyoneering will depend on where you’re from. While the rest of the contemporary world uses the term canyoning, folks from the US are known to use canyoneering. That’s all there’s to it!

Is canyoning an extreme sport?

That’s right, canyoning is an extreme sport (otherwise it wouldn’t find its place here, at Go Extreme Sports). That’s because it requires you to overcome some physically demanding challenges. These challenges demand you use a lot of safety equipment just so everything goes as smoothly as possible. Wondering what kind of equipment are we talking about? Read the next paragraph.

What do you need for canyoning?

Here we’ll provide you a quick glimpse into your average canyoner/canyoneer’s “luggage”. So, what kind of equipment does one need to carry on a canyoning adventure?

  • Canyoning shoes. Needless to say, because of the conditions that prevail in canyons, one will need a comfy, waterproof pair of shoes.
  • Helmet. Without a helmet, you’re risking too much; canyons aren’t to be messed around with.
  • Wetsuit. Canyoning in cold & deep canyons will require you to wear something that’s durable and warm. Also, it’ll keep you dry.
  • Gloves. They’ll keep your hands safe & sound and also provide some additional grip (which is always a good thing).
  • Static rope (or ropes). They’re fantastic for abseiling and are a crucial item inside your canyoning inventory.
  • Dynamic rope (or ropes). They’re here to enhance safety measures.
  • Rope bag. You’re not going to carry climbing ropes in your arms, right?
  • Descender. It does without saying that a belay system is necessary for a safe canyoning adventure. It’ll manage and control your descent.
  • Harness. No need to explain its role in your average climber’s inventory.
  • Carabiner. You’ll utilize it to connect the last two items we’ve mentioned.
  • Sling. For additional safety, it’ll hold the anchors fast, and provide some extra measures for the climber.
  • Waterproof bag. A lightweight bag that prevents all your items from getting wet. Could we ask for more than that?

How is canyoning done?

We’ll try to explain this with the fewest of words: the act of canyoning (canyoneering) represents traversing through the gorge from top to bottom. You’ll enter the place at a certain point and “simply” follow the stream of water. You’ll find yourself replacing dry land for cold water and the other way around every once in a while.

Okay, now that we’ve gone through some of the basic canyoning trivia, it’s about time we consider whether (or not) we need to know swimming to enjoy canyoning. Stay tuned!

A person descending a cliff, canyoning.

Do we need to know swimming for canyoning?

Let’s say you don’t how to swim (years pass and you still haven’t learned it), but your friends are eager to bring you along on their first canyoning adventure. However, they’re not so sure whether or not you’ll be able to make it because of the fact you can’t swim. Needless to say, neither are you. We’re here to help you with that!

You’ll want to know that swimming isn’t an absolute necessity for canyoning, although it’s recommended. If you’re comfortable wearing buoyancy aids (a 5mm wetsuit will probably enable you to float) and getting wet, not knowing how to swim won’t present a real danger to your enjoyment of this wonderful human activity. What’s most important is that you don’t start to panic or something. Give it some good thought and if it seems like something you’d enjoy besides the fact you’re not a swimmer, go for it!

However, not that some folks won’t let you in on a canyoning adventure if you’re not an experienced swimmer, let alone a non-swimmer. We guess it all depends on the difficulty of the gorge itself. Did you know that canyoning has got its own grading system?

Alright, now that we’ve cleared that one up, it’s time to see if there’s some additional info we’d like to mention. Also, here are some tips for folks that want to try canyoning but are afraid their feet are too small.

Canyoning for the first time?

Here we’ll introduce you to some basic tips that will help you during your first canyoning adventure. Don’t worry, it will be as memorable as you imagine it to be. Just make sure you follow all of the safety standards (just like the one saying you shouldn’t surf during a thunderstorm), and, above all, have some good clean fun! Now, let’s see those tips!

Pay attention to what your guide’s saying

Now, you’re trying canyoning for the first time and you think you’ve got the luxury of not listening carefully to what your guide says? Well, think again! Your guide’s expertise and relevant experience are good enough reasons to prick up your ears. We’re not saying this just because, it’s for your own good (and enjoyment of this fantastic extreme sport).

There’s no need to rush things up

Here’s the thing: a beginner might be all too eager to show off his skills. You know, it’s the whole hey, coach, look at me! type of behavior. However, you should completely avoid being that kind of person when you’re canyoning for the first time in your life. You’ll want to take as much time as you require to get through every stage of the trip with patience. Also, if there’s any type of task that you’re not sure about how you’ll make it – don’t try to do it by all means.

Snacks to the rescue

Lastly, don’t forget to take some energy boosters in the form of snacks. Because? Because you’ll need them, trust us. Pack some of your favorite snacks and head to one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do!

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention the last tip we’ve planned to introduce here: remember to have some good fun and enjoy every beautiful experience that you’ll encounter along the way!

At the bottom of the canyon

Okay, so that’s about it, dear folks! These were all the tips that surround the issue of whether or not folks need to know swimming for canyoning! Hopefully, this article has cleared up many of the things you’ve probably misunderstood. In other words: we hope it lifted the veil of mystery from this amazing outdoor activity.

For more tips on mountain climbing and related info, make sure you visit this page on our blog.

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