Kayakers used to braving frigid Alaskan waters will get a chance to train in a more leisurely environment this winter.
Beginning in January, the Skyview pool will be open for once-weekly kayak open pool sessions.
The Soldotna Community Schools Program, which is run by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, is also partnering with the Immersion Paddling Academy to provide an opportunity for community members to receive guided instruction during four of the eight sessions.
Matthew Pyhala, owner of the Immersion Paddling Academy, will give lessons on basic strokes and maneuvers in the first two instructional sessions. The last two sessions will include more advanced techniques such as bracing — which kayakers use to prevent capsizing — and rolling, used to right capsized kayaks.
Although there’s nothing wrong with beginners starting outdoors, Pyhala said the pool offers a safe and predictable environment for those new to kayaking. It’s also a lot warmer.
“If you’re going to capsize, doing it in 80-degree water is a little better than Arctic conditions,” Pyhala said.
An Anchor Point native, Pyhala is a certified level 5 sea kayak instructor with the American Canoe Association who has been paddling for the last decade.
Pyhala worked with the Community Schools to provide instruction at a trial run of the program that ended in December. Pyhala said about 30 people attended those courses and open pool sessions.