By Kim Short, KAB Member

There is no better way to kick off the dragon boat season than participating in a training camp, especially when one gets to paddle at the beautiful, world-class Nathan Benderson Park in sunny Sarasota, Florida. This year’s training camp was held on April 28 to May 4, 2019. Members of Welland’s SNCC Warlocks, Sarasota’s Survivors in Sync, and London’s Rowbust and Pendragons joined thirteen members of the Knot A Breast Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Team. Our practices were 90 minutes long, twice a day for seven days with expert coaching from Kathy Levy (Knot A Breast), Doug Jones (SNCC Warlocks) and Cheryl McLachlan (Pendragons/Rowbust).

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Training included team warm-ups and cool downs, technique drills, speed work, two video reviews with individual feedback, and endurance paddling. Over time, we learned to make adjustments to our technique and, by the end of the week, any on-looker would think we were one big crew paddling together. Amazing!

While the coaches worked diligently to help us improve our stroke and become better paddlers and teammates, and we did out best to execute their advice, we also had time for many laughs and enjoyment of the warmth and beauty of Sarasota, Florida. Most of us stayed at the Sun ‘N Fun RV Resort where we enjoyed full access to the swimming pools, hot tubs, gym, yoga studio and other amenities. Thanks to Tammy (Pendragons) for leading us in two relaxing yoga sessions to help stretch out our sore muscles and find some time to just breathe! We had fun evenings together, and an afternoon off to enjoy the hot and sunny weather (beach or shopping day!). Some of us also ventured out in the evening to sample the food at the local restaurants. We enjoyed paddling at the world-class, multi-use sports venue while admiring palm trees, native birds, turtles and alligators, yes, alligators!!

We celebrated at the farewell party, where newbies (first-time attendees to the training camp) were awarded with a special lei, and the men also received special recognition. Kudos were given to our awesome steerspersons, Donna and Terry. Great job everyone! Thank you to Steve, Verna, Lindsay and Sue (SNCC Warlocks) for organizing this awesome experience. Huge thanks to Kathy and Doug for your vision in offering this camp in Sarasota and giving so much of your yourselves to make us all better dragon boat paddlers.

As a third time participant in this training camp, I have to say it just gets better and better. It improves my paddling, I make new friendships, and I feel “ready, ready” to begin the dragon boat season. I can’t wait for next year!