Don will happily tell you that he still has not grown up! He spent his younger years in Idaho and Oregon growing an appreciation for the outdoors. His older brothers taught him how to kayak while he was attending Saint Lawrence University in upstate New York. Once the hook was set, Don never looked back. He has been kayaking for nearly thirty years, has kayaked over 400 rivers around the world, and has built his career around the rivers he loves. He has guided rafts and kayaks in the United States, Norway, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Ecuador. He has also paddled recreationally in over 20 countries notching numerous first descents along the way. He is an expert coach both for technical paddling skills and for the mental game of kayaking, and he loves sharing his knowledge while guiding. Once the day of paddling is finished, Don can tell a great story and joke around the campfire or at the local hostel. On top of all this, he is proud to be the only person to ever kayak the Amazon “because his girlfriend made him.”
Darcy grew up in Aspen, Colorado and the independence that living in a small mountain town gave her shaped her life in many ways. At the age of 18, she sought out a raft guiding job at the urging of her middle school track coach (who is still a friend and kayaking guest of Don and Darcy). That summer helped to shape the direction of her life. Shortly after graduation from Montana State University she got a job guiding kayaking trips in Ecuador with Don and Larry Vermeeren. In 2005, she returned to graduate school at the University of British Columbia. By this point, she was an owner of SWA and directed her graduate studies to the oil industry in Ecuador in order to balance school with the kayaking business. Now she feels more at home in a kayak on a remote river than anywhere else, and she is working hard to perpetuate this lifestyle. She is currently cooped up in an apartment in Aspen, CO writing a book about her trip down the Amazon-she was the first woman to kayak the Amazon from source to sea. She is staying sane by daydreaming constantly about the next river trip.