According to you, anybody who wants to paddle should take all the safety lessons first, before going in the water at all.
What a turnoff! That's not how people get hooked on the sport. They need to FEEL what paddling is like themselves, not go through pedantics first. With that catch, the sanest thing is to paddle in the easiest conditions, and not in cold water. OP made a mistake but he obviously learned about cold water in a hurry.
You, however, haven't learned that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
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