The 2018 Newbies at their first race in 2019: Anne Cahill is fifth from left  

All new members compete in one race their first season.  I will never forget that day we got into the boat for our first competition at Hamilton Waterfest in July, 2019.  I had only graduated from the safety boat, where I watched the team practice, to being in the dragon boat paddling weeks earlier.  What seemed not so difficult from a safe distance was much more demanding once seated, hip to gunnel,  paddle in hand. I had just barely figured out what side I would paddle on and here it was Race Day! It was so emotional, I had tears in my eyes as I got in the boat and was thankful for the sunglasses I was wearing.  The enormity of how far I had come, and how I never gave up, came to me all at once. These reflections were quickly replaced by nervousness as we made our way out to the starting line. The race was both scary and electrifying! “Scary” because I forgot to keep my head up and missed my stroke and “electrifying” because we did it, we crossed the finish line! 

Anne Cahill’s husband, Laurie, was proud of her after first race 2019