Hydrospeed, the Basics

Are you tempted by hydrospeed? Discover our complete guide to find out everything about this whitewater swimming adventure.

Hydrospeed Basics: Everything You Need to Know Before You Dive


Passionate of white water sports and looking for thrills? Discover the river from a new angle Ubaye, jewel of Alps of Haute Provence, thanks to hydrospeed !

Hydrospeed, also known as white water swimming, invites you on an adventure where you go down the river lying on a float, using fins to move forward and steer. It is an intense experience, which brings you face to face with the currents, waves and rapids of the'Ubaye.

No matter your level,hydrospeed offers a unique sliding experience and an adrenaline rush, while immersing you in the magnificent natural setting of the valley of Barcelonnette. Depending on your experience, you can opt for different routes, all supervised by qualified and passionate guides.

We will introduce you to the basics of hydrospeed : definition, preparation, advice for beginners, emphasizing that this activity is accessible provided that you respect certain safety rules and are well equipped.

Ready to dive into the hydrospeed adventure? Follow the leader !

What is hydrospeed?

Definition and origins of hydrospeed

The hydrospeed, often known as white water swimming, consists of going down the river using a specially designed foam float, also called hydrospeed, and flippers. The float allows the swimmer to be protected from impacts, stay on the surface of the water and maneuver skillfully. Fins, for their part, facilitate propulsion and steering.

Originally from France in the 1970s, thehydrospeed is the fruit of the innovation of white water sports enthusiasts eager to experience the intense sensations offered by the river current. It quickly became popular, gaining notoriety in several European countries such as Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, where it is respectively known under the names of riverboarding.

The differences between hydrospeed and other white water sports

Hydrospeed is distinguished by the direct link it creates between the practitioner and the aquatic element: no boat comes in the way. This characteristic ensures complete immersion in the river environment, great proximity to nature and exceptional freedom of movement.

This white water sport promises an unparalleled, adrenaline-rich sliding experience, while requiring excellent physical condition and swimming skills. Compared to rafting, canoe or kayak, hydrospeed turns out to be more dynamic, more technical, and requires an ability to interpret water movements as well as responsiveness to natural obstacles.

Beyond its sporting dimension, thehydrospeed allows you to indulge in surfing the waves, sailing against the current and exploring the dynamics of whirlpools. It is an enriching sport that can be practiced alone or in a group, adapting to both the desires and skills of each individual.

Essential preparations before your first hydrospeed session

Choosing the right equipment

For an optimal hydrospeed experience, the choice of a equipment appropriate and quality is crucial. A foam float, commonly called hydrospeed, is essential for your protection against shocks and for controlling your trajectory on the water.

It is also essential to wear a full suit made of neoprene, with reinforcements for insulation against the cold and protection against injuries. Fins, which allow you to propel yourself and steer, helmet and vest Rescue services are essential to ensure your safety.

If this is your first experience and you are opting for a white water base like crazy water rafting, the necessary equipment will be provided to you. Choose a serious entity, with equipment that complies with current standards. Online reviews and the valley tourist office Barcelonnette can be good reference points.

Know what conditions are necessary

The practice of hydrospeed requires high-flow rivers, such as Ubaye, suitable for all levels thanks to its diversified routes. However, certain conditions are essential: knowing how to swim, being comfortable in the water, being in good physical condition without heart or respiratory problems. The activity is accessible from 10 years old at crazy water.

Before getting started, it is important to check the weather report and water level to avoid stormy or flood conditions. The optimal flow of the river, generally between May and September, guarantees a safe experience. Visit the prefecture website of the Alpes de Haute Provence or contact professionals for precise information.

The importance of support from a professional

Hydrospeed is demanding and requires extensive knowledge of the water. Supervision by a qualified professional is strongly recommended. A state-certified guide from Crazy Water will teach you essential techniques, safety rules and how to react in delicate situations, while helping you discover the particularities of the Ubaye River.

This professional support offers support adapted to your level, ensuring progression and an enriching experience, whether you are a beginner or experienced. The whitewater bases and specialized agencies in the Barcelonnette valley offer a variety of courses, allowing everyone to find the perfect hydrospeed experience, in a secure and friendly setting.

Tips for Hydrospeed Beginners

Learn basic techniques

To start in hydrospeed, it is crucial to master certain fundamental techniques. Follow these tips for the best experience:

  • Position yourself lying on the float, gripping the handles. Keep your head above water and look ahead.
  • Use your fins to move forward and steer. To pivot, apply pressure with the fin on the opposite side to where you want to go. To slow down, position your fins vertically.
  • Keep an eye on guide and follow the trajectory he recommends. Maintain a safe distance from him and other participants. Don't overtake him or stray from the group.
  • Learn to read water flow, waves and obstacles. Anticipate them and dodge them if necessary. Take advantage of the waves to move forward and the counter-currents to rest or reposition yourself.
  • If you fall, never let go your float. Use your fins to go up, catch your breath, then get back on the float. If an obstacle traps you, let go of the float and swim towards the surface. We will teach you'eskimo.

Essential Safety Tips

Hydrospeed is a sport rich in sensations but which is not without risks. To minimize them, here are some safety rules to follow:

  • Do not practice hydrospeed if you cannot swim, have health problems or are under the influence of substances.
  • Always wear the equipment provided (wetsuit, helmet, vest, float and fins) and make sure it is properly adjusted and in good condition.
  • Obey the guide's instructions and inform the guide if there is a problem. If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask for advice. Stay attentive to his instructions and signals.
  • Don't overestimate your abilities and choose a course suited to your experience. Stay modest and careful.
  • In case of difficulty, remain calm and apply the techniques learned. If necessary, report yourself to the guide or other participants.

Managing the different types of watercourses

Practice hydrospeed involves navigating varied rivers, influenced by seasons, weather and geography. It is essential to know how to adapt to these different environments.

Some examples :

  • Mountain rivers, such as Ubaye, are generally narrow, fast and winding. They require vigilance and reactivity to negotiate rapids, narrow passages and natural obstacles.
  • Lowland rivers, such as the Durance, are wider, quieter and linear. They offer accessible and relaxing courses, dotted with regular waves and artificial obstacles. It's about maintaining endurance and savoring the scenery.
  • Rivers in flood, like the Drac, offer more extreme conditions with strong currents and turbulence. These courses require courage and experience to face powerful and unexpected waves.


If you are dreaming of an unforgettable experience in the magnificent valley of Barcelonnette from the river Ubaye, nestled in the heart of Alpes de Haute Provence, why not try your hand at hydrospeed? It’s the most thrilling and fun white water sport there is!

This article covered the fundamentals ofhydrospeed : its definition, the necessary preparations, and advice for beginners. We have emphasized that hydrospeed is accessible to everyone, provided they respect certain safety standards and are adequately equipped.

We also explored the different waterways available to you and how to adapt to them. Lhydrospeed offers you the chance to ride the waves, navigate through the rapids, have fun with the whirlpools and admire the spectacular landscape of the valley of Barcelonnette.

What's holding you back? Book your sessionhydrospeed now with one of the valley's qualified and enthusiastic instructors Barcelonnette.

This adventure guarantees unforgettable moments of sliding and adrenaline, and promises not to disappoint you!


Where to practice hydrospeed in France?

L'hydrospeed, a fun activity involving going down rivers using a foam float and fins, is practiced on various rivers in France. Key destinations include Ardèche, Verdon, Isère,'Ubaye, Aude and Hérault. To indulge in this discipline, it is imperative to be accompanied by an expert and to know how to swim.

Caroline Aalbers
Caroline Aalbers
Wat een geweldige ervaring, raften over de Ubaye! Prachtige natuur, mooie afwisselende tocht (inclusief zwemmen en in het water springen!) en geschikt voor elk niveau. Onze kinderen (6 en 9 jaar) hebben een super eerste raft ervaring gehad, mede dankzij onze leuke en goede gids. Ze willen zeker nog een keer :-)
Ziga Budja
Ziga Budja
Wonderfull family rafting experience. Just a little bit too much for my sensitive eight year old, but great overall. The river is beautiful with nice surroundings. The guide was excellent (forgot his name 🙄) and the whole team was very nice. The trip down the river took about one and a half hour with some stops. If you visit this place, your're not gonna be sorry! 👍🏻
Un lieu calme et agréable, accueillit par une équipe sympathique. Mise à disposition du barbecue pour le repas du midi avant le rafting. Tout est là pour votre bonheur.
Jerome Henry
Jerome Henry
Merci @CrazyWaterRafting pour les moments géniaux en famille. Nous avons fait rafting, rando aquatique et kayak avec 2 adultes et 2 ados : génial !! Guides super sympa, très pro, Contrairement à ce que l'on entend a la télé, le niveau d'eau dans cette rivière et plus que suffisant pour s'éclater ! Nb: la rando aquatique n'est pas très connue mais super aussi, descente de la rivière en nageant, dans un secteur plus calme que celui pour le rafting. Explication sur la nature, superbe paysages, surprise à la fin... Encore merci. Jérôme, Caroline, Charlotte et Manon.
Shameer Habibi
Shameer Habibi
Really fun, and a really good guide! Overall amazing
Melanie Macias
Melanie Macias
Top top top
Lorenzo Van Loon
Lorenzo Van Loon
We did two descents, one by raft and one by kayak, both with Julien as a guide. He seems totally crazy when you first meet him, but he was a great guide and made our day. Really spectacular river, with a lot of rapids and great views. We got out of the boats to swim a bit in one of the rapids and they took us to a rock where we could jump in to the water. Julien and the crew of Crazy Water are real professionals, but in for a laugh and a joke. A pity we could'n do the 'sport' descent, because of bad weather. But we sure come back. One remark; their 'bar' is quite empty, so make sure to bring your own drinks and food if you're planning to stay for a day.
verriez virginie
verriez virginie