Dragon boat club short of female paddlers

expecting it to pay off at the major paddling competitions this academic year. Photo: Alena Khabibullina/The Dialog

Rachelle Alcide Dionne is challenged by lots of hard work at training,
expecting it to pay off at the major paddling competitions this academic year. Photo: Alena Khabibullina/The Dialog

“Competitive, exhausting, thrilling and rewarding” were the most common descriptions mentioned by George Brown (GBC) students who are part of a new dragon boat club.

This highly dynamic and synchronized sport has already attracted about 20 members, five of whom are women. Most are students of the fitness and health promotion program.

Lisa Tai, having five years experience as a dragon boat club associate supervisor for the Ryerson team, pushed the efforts to start a new club at GBC.

“I know couple of my classmates were interested in joining. So I thought ‘Hey! Why not to form a club and share love of the dragon boat,” she said. “I had the resources available. So we approached athletics department and here we are in the pool, practicing and getting ready to the competitions in the summer.”

Paying attention to the fitness test scores and paddling technique, the club’s management would like to set the team of well-trained paddlers for three main races this academic year: Milton dragon boat race festival, St. Catharines dragon boat festival and the biggest one of the entire season, Toronto international dragon boat race festival.

Already practicing at the Ryerson pool, the newly created club is short by at least three female paddlers which could become a reason for the team’s ineligibility to perform in the competitions. However, Tai stays optimistic, “If we have more than 20 participants, then we will have to pick and choose. They all are aware that this situation may happen, because as a coach I want the best for the team.”

Intimidated by the intensity of the sport, most women are trying to find excuses not to participate on a dragon boat, fresh-new female paddler Rachelle Alcide Dionne said. “It is challenging, and it’s a lot of hard work, but the feeling afterwards is so rewarding. I love it!”

In addition to intense training at the pool, three to four work-out sessions will be conducted in the gym which will involve a cardio component, jogging, and a rowing machine. Working on muscular strength and power that are especially needed for 500 meter race piece, the students have also an opportunity to meet other sport-obsessed people.

“My goals are to train almost every day, to become stronger for myself and the dragon boat team; make new friends and when we do start racing, to win all of them and go to the finals,” said Nick Panos, who is new to the sport and a former rugby and football player.

Turning a group of young GBC men and women into strong paddlers, the club educates new dragon boat community members whose goal is to present the college on the winning pedestal in upcoming competitions.

“Being the captain is a lot of responsibility. Starting out as a new paddler, it can be hard to grasp the movements and it can be discouraging,” said Vincent Romeo.

“My goal, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say this, is to be one of the top teams in future competitions. It will be a lot of hard work but if everyone is committed and dedicated there is a good chance we can win,” said Romeo.

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Dragon boat club short of female paddlers