New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a beginning kayaker, said his unplanned swim through a white-water rapid was just "what happens when you go kayaking."
But experienced river users said the governor violated basic precautions by exceeding his skill level in an ill-equipped kayak and making the attempt solo. They said Johnson set a poor example for other novice kayakers.
The GOP governor said he dumped his kayak in a rapid on the Rio Grande on Sunday, then floated through the rapid into calmer water. "This is like falling down skiing," Johnson told reporters.