Then collect gear. Only if the swimmer makes it clear they are in control and it looks to you like they are out of danger on their own, should you go after the gear. And still keep an eye for the swimmer as you do that.
I'm thinking that if someone had just been paddling next to the swimmer as soon as they flipped over, the swimmer would not have panicked and would have probably been a lot more helpful in being rescued when he ran out of steam half way. You would hve avoided the panic sitution rather than having to deal with it after it happened. Verbal communications are key to figure out if they are ok or if you can trust them to get near them without putting yourself in danger.
If you do get a skirt, get a neoprene one - the splash ones are pretty much only to keep splashes of water out. And in a rescue situation it would not be uncommon for the rescuer to tip over and perhaps have to roll or just edge the boat deep sideways and filli it up with water while helping the swimmer.
Celia gave some good suggestions too.
Paddler's Truck Rack
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
Rescue / Throw Bags
Touring Kayak Paddles
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