Enter the dragon

Dragon boating is a fun sport that’s rapidly increasing in popularity

by Glynis Fediuk
dragon boaters
The crew of a dragon boat sits facing forward, towards the drummer. — photo courtesy Chloe Greenhalgh

Dragon boating is the world’s second-fastest growing team sport, second only to soccer. Given this, it’s not surprising that an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 spectators attend the annual Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival every June; 2010 marks the festival’s ninth year.

“It’s the ultimate team experience,” said Diane Randell, former co-chair of the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival Commitee. “A team consists of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson, plus a few spare paddlers. The festival attracts more than 60 teams from all over Western Canada—it’s a major undertaking. There (are) more than 350 volunteers involved.”

Randell said that the festival is seen not only as a sporting event, but also a community builder. “The feedback we’ve had from participants says that it provides an opportunity to come together in a community setting,” she said. “We have paddlers from the age of 12 up to 80. It’s something that people can do despite some of the barriers that a sport might traditionally present.”

Randell said that dragon boating can be demanding, requiring a specific paddling technique and a reasonable fitness level. Overall, though, most people take up the sport for simpler reasons. “It’s different and it’s also a lot of fun,” said Randell.

Resource: www.lethbridgedragonfest.ca

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