This is the first year I have made it to the pool and I really wish I had started going earlier. It is great fun and you meet some cool like minded yakkers, while growing your skills in a safe environment. In the triangle area, we have pool sessions in Raleigh at Optimist Pool, as well as in Chapel Hill. The former has better hours and is closer, so is usually my preference, although depending on my week, I have made it out to a few sessions in Chapel Hill.
I’ve only missed a single session at the Raleigh pool this year and that one was due to bad weather closing it. Part of my heavy attendance this year is that I wanted to learn to Roll, which I accomplished after putting in a good bit of work. Now that I have a fairly decent on-side roll and passable off-side roll, and am comfortable rolling in all of my boats, I still enjoy going and practicing/talking with other yakkers. It is nice to be able to try out things in the pool, like sculling, bracing, edging, in a forgiving environment, rather than out on the river somewhere. I’ve also been able to try out a number of other boats, including some smaller play boat styles, not to mention pool water is generally cleaner than most of the rivers I frequent. I can do things I wouldn’t normally do on the river, with fewer and less severe consequences, along with much warmer water than you would find otherwise. The main risk is of physical injury due to not doing a roll correctly.
Pool sessions will be ending sometime in the coming months, as the weather and water warms up, but I will definitely make it part of weekly paddling routine next year as well. People are generally really friendly and if you don’t have a roll and don’t want to splurge for a lesson, people will generally give you a bit of time or help pinpoint what you are doing wrong.
So, if you are fortunate enough to have pool sessions in your area, I would highly advise taking advantage of them while you can!