Skip to main content

Course Description

The 3-day Swiftwater Rescue Techniques course provides recreational boaters, trip leaders and rescue practitioners with the necessary skills to respond to emergencies in swiftwater settings. You will learn the most recent river rescue techniques through this dynamic, fast-paced and hands-on curriculum. Skills will be explained, demonstrated and practiced in several river locations to illustrate their adaptability and limitations. The progression begins with a focus on swimming in white water and using throw bags. As we develop our foundational proficiency, we begin to focus on advanced techniques such as tension diagonals, live bait rescues and heads-up and heads-down entrapment rescues. Scenarios will be used throughout the course to emphasize real world application. The underlying themes throughout the course will be accident prevention, rescuer safety, and scene assessment and management.

Course Focus

  • Developing solid fundamental river rescue skills
  • Practicing and applying advanced skills in varied circumstances
  • Understanding patient care challenges and techniques appropriate to the swiftwater environment


  • Basic river/swiftwater experience and swimming ability
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must have adequate health insurance
  • Recommended but not required: Wilderness First Aid or higher medical certification


Swiftwater Rescue Techniques certification will be issued to students upon successful completion of the course.

Student to Instructor Ratio


Sample Schedule

Day 1
AM Introductions; River rescue philosophy; Equipment; throw bags; Depart for field
PM Safety talk; Swimming; Live-bait rescues; Strainer drill; Scenarios
Day 2
AM Hypothermia; Shore-based anchors; Boat-based anchors; Mechanical advantage systems
PM Tension diagonals; Wading; Spinal precautions; Scenarios
Day 3
AM Submersion; Entrapment- 1 shore; Panic swimmer
PM Entrapment- 2 shore; Scenarios

Gear List

The first day will begin with a half-day of classroom and dry land practice. Bring a notebook or a camera or whatever helps you learn. In the afternoon of the first day we will head out to the river so come prepared with all the items listed below for being outside in cold and wet conditions- there will be extensive practice time in the river.

Required items (Please ask in advance if you have any questions about these, as we spend time in the river on the first day of this class):

  • Insulation for swimming in cold whitewater: A full river drysuit is ideal. Other options are a dry top and bottom, or a full wetsuit. At a minimum a farmer john wetsuit, synthetic upper layers and a splash top. SCUBA drysuits will not work.
  • Synthetic long underwear and other insulating layers to wear under drysuit.
  • Lightweight water or kayak helmet. (Please NO climbing, cycling helmets,etc.)
  • PFD- USCG approved Type III or V with river boating intended use. If you have access to a type V PFD with a releasable rescue harness, please bring it.
  • Thick-soled water booties or tennis shoes. Must be closed-toe.
  • Optional: Neoprene gloves and skullcap or balaclava, whistle, river knife, throw bag, flip line, spray pants, carabiners, prusiks, etc.

Here are a few resources for obtaining gear:

Here are a few shops that have had dry suits available for rent in the past. Spring is the busy season for drysuit rentals, so don’t wait until the last second.

  • Pacific River Supply: (510) 223-3346 or
  • Kayak Academy
  • Immersion Research Drysuit Rentals
  • The River Store
  • 4Corners Riversports
  • Utah Whitewater Gear (they're local!)
  • Logistics

    The first day the course will meet either in the Stewart building at the University of Utah: 270 S 1400 E, or at Utah Whitewater Gear in Midvale: 7307 S. State Street. As we get closer to the course, an instructor will contact you with location information and directions.

    The afternoon of the first day and the entirety of the remaining days are all field time, which will take place within a 1-hour drive of Salt Lake City. The exact locations will be announced on the first day, as it will be dependent on water levels and weather. The course will run each day from approximately 8:30am-5:00pm. You are responsible for your own transportation to field locations and for lunch during the day.


    Course fee payment in full is required to reserve your spot in the course. Course fees are payable by credit card on the Umarket website which can be found by clicking on the dates of the course you are interested at The course fee covers syllabus, group equipment and instruction. RRT is not obligated to allow any student to attend a course until all RRT paperwork has been received, reviewed and approved by RRT. A full refund will be given if we are forced to cancel the course for any reason.

    Cancellation and Refund Policy

    If a student cancels or withdraws from a course:

  • Greater than or equal to 30 days prior to the course starting date, RRT will retain a $35.00 administrative fee.
  • Within 30 days of the course start date and once the course has begun, course fees are non-refundable for the Swiftwater Rescue Fundamentals Course
  • RRT Student Waiver

    Download the waiver form here and read it very carefully as it affects your legal rights.

    Bring the two-page signed document to the first day of the course. Failure to provide a completely filled out and signed document will result in you not being able to participate in the course. Any activities during unsupervised free time throughout the course are not part of the RRT program and are at the sole risk of the participant.

    Course Policies

    PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THE COURSE. THIS INCLUDES LEASHING THEM OUTSIDE. NO EXCEPTIONS. Any student bringing pets to class will be asked to leave class until the pet is safely situated in a kennel or other facility.


    Attendance is required at all sessions. Students who miss any sessions may not be permitted to continue with the course.

    We hope this information is helpful. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.