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How to Catch a Throw Bag

At some point, you may find yourself in the water on the receiving end of a thrown rope. Rescue instructor Jim Coffey shows how to grab and position the rope to place minimum strain on you and the on-shore rescuer.

You probably like to think of yourself as the rescuer, but at some point you may find yourself being the one rescued. Hey, it happens. When that throw bag comes your way, you’ll want to do your part right. Otherwise, your buddies will be razzing the heck out of you at the end of the day! Of course, a more dangerous outcome would be to put yourself and others in danger.

If the water is really rough, you may be getting chundered but do your best to look for the person on shore setting safety. They’ll be looking for a sign that you are able to catch the rope; a wave from you will help them make the call. When the throw bag comes sailing your way, grab the rope, not the bag. Grabbing the bag will allow more rope to spool out, lengthening your time in the water.

When you have the rope, turn on your back and transfer the rope to your in-river hand, the one farthest from shore. Let the rope rest on your shoulder and tuck your elbow next to your body. On your back you’ll have a better chance to catch a breath as the water rushes past you. This position also puts your body in line with the water flow as you pendulum into shore. Putting the rope on your shoulder closest to shore can cause your body to spin perpendicular to the flow, putting excess strain on you and the rescuer.

As you swing into shore, remember to NEVER attempt to stand unless the water if very shallow or quite calm. Standing in fast-moving deep water can lead to a foot entrapment; where the force of the water can push you down and hold your head under water.