All in the same boat

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dragon boating

The challenge of dragon boating has seen Dr Jane Griffin of Main Street Veterinary Clinic in Bairnsdale, Victoria, find competition, camaraderie and community.

“I got into dragon boating because my boss’s wife invited me to join a team. I was swimming and cycling but I’d injured my knee in a cattle-yard accident so I had to take it easy when walking and running. The team I joined was a breast cancer survivor and supporter group called Dragons Abreast. I had been in the club for four years when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“I made an announcement to the team that I was leaving the group as a supporter and they all thought I was leaving town. Then I announced I was immediately rejoining as a survivor. It certainly helped being among such supportive people.

“I underwent 12 months of treatment and paddled in the boat throughout my chemotherapy and recovery. There is much research that has thoroughly proven that exercise is very important during cancer treatment. I paddled with Dragons Abreast until last year when a few of us got together and decided to train a bit harder and push ourselves a bit more.

“I now paddle with the Kingfisher Dragon Boat Club. I was interested to see if there would be any interest in our new club. The team officially launched in February 2023, and we now have more than 50 members. Dragon boats at regattas are all one size and in races are paddled by teams of 10 or 20 people. There’s a drummer at the front to keep time and a sweep at the back to steer the boat.

“After a lot of effort, I’m now a level three sweep. I had to undertake 10 hours of sweeping in a club boat, a course and exam run by Dragon Boat Victoria, a lot of study relating to marine laws and safety, and another 20 hours of sweeping for my club. I then had to sweep in three races at three regattas without any adverse incidents. The whole thing took me about 18 months.

“Dragon Boating was the first team sport I played and I loved it immediately. You need to work together in unison just to get a boat out on the water. The community involvement has been wonderful and I’ve met heaps of people. Local and interstate regattas are great places to catch up and network. When travelling, you’re welcome to paddle with any other club, provided you’re registered with the state body. There’s a fantastic social aspect and the competition is hard fought and exciting. I love dragon boating so much, I’ve recently registered for a coaching course. It’s another intense and lengthy process but I can’t wait to get started.”

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