I never learned to swim when I was a kid. I developed quite a fear of water, and in spite of taking swimming lessons a few times, never made real progress. I discovered an easy opportunity to learn to swim as a young adult, and by that point, I was sensible enough to give it my best shot in spite of my uneasiness around water. This was before I became such an avid paddler, but I did spend a lot of time in small boats, and figured learning to swim only made sense.
It was one of the smartest things I've ever done, and for the next several years I truly ENJOYED improving my swimming skills (actually, I still do, but I don't improve as rapidly anymore). Not even considering the safety aspect, falling out of your boat, or even running the risk of falling out, is a whole different experience if you are comfortable in the water than if you are not.
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