Dragon boat racing: Experiencing Peterborough’s spirit of teamwork and community

The Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival holds a special place in my heart. Marlene, Peggy and I have paddled with Survivors Abreast Dragon Boat team. 

The two weeks prior to the festival are super busy for us as we help with Survivors Abreast teammates and provide over 60 community teams with one-hour Little Lake practices. 

Marlene and I coached the teams and we honestly love the energy of those teams and their commitment to our community. Peggy fearlessly steered the dragon boats for the community team through wind and rain.

Festival day was a beautiful day, full of sunshine, smiles and laughter.

The Peterborough community continues to make me proud to live here. Our people get behind the cause with heart and step up to the plate each year. 

As a Survivors Abreast paddler, festival day tends to swell my heart, and to see over 60 teams supporting our festival is a testament to people coming together to make a difference. 

I have paddled now for nine years with Survivors Abreast, in nine Peterborough Dragon Boat Festivals, two International Dragon Boat Festivals (Peterborough 2010 and Sarasota 2014), and countless summer festivals spreading the word that early detection can save your life.

As a breast cancer survivor — cancer free since 2006, I have to add — I know the importance of early detection and the importance of awareness.


I think if my mind had been more aware that breast cancer could touch me, I would have been more proactive when I felt a lump and wouldn’t have waited months until making a doctor’s appointment. Don’t we all love the wisdom of hindsight?

I love the strength I feel in the boat when paddling and the inspiration of all the women around me.

I often say to my paddling pals who are in their mid-70s, that dragon boating paddling is the fountain of youth. They look and have the energy of someone 20 years younger than they are. 

Survivors Abreast paddlers and the Peterborough community surround me with warmth and energy to keep moving forward. 


Paddles up and take it away! Florida Training Camp pushed us out of our comfort zone

On April 6, fearless paddlers flew off to Tampa, Florida to have some fun in the sun and to get a jumpstart on our paddling season.

We arrived at the Dragon Boat Paddling Camp to beautiful accommodations overlooking a lake, with the dragon boats docked below our patios.

The first morning we had our wakeup call. This may be a little bit of a fitness stretch for most of us, although some of us had been busy preparing for the camp all winter by swimming laps in the pool, running and working out at the gym with weights.

The paddling was intense.

We started the morning with a one-hour boot camp, which we quickly modified to our levels of need, along with some yoga stretches. 

We bravely entered the boat and paddled for the next 2.5 hours with people from all over the U.S. and even meet some new Canadian friends. 

Leaving the boat, I thought the ground might be too far away as I laid down for a few good yoga stretches, working my hip and lower back muscles until they loved me once again. 

We were thrilled when they told us we have a several hour break where we could swim, replenish our energy and meet our new B.C. friend, Glenda. 

Back in the boat we went for another 2.5-hour paddle and a 1,400-metre race to wind up the workout. We wanted a winter work out and well, a winter workout we got! 

By day three, we were comfortable in the boat with our new paddling partners, learning a few new tricks, gathering our energy up for the mini regatta, and to finish off with a long-distance race. 

What we learned is that Florida teams mostly race 200-metre races and their stroke rate is very fast. 

The Survivors Abreast paddlers have been coached to race longer races and have a long, slower stroke rate. The coached appreciated our slower stroke rate and pace. And while he did push us with the fast stroke rate, he also taught the group the advantage of the longer stroke.  

We survived and headed off to Cocoa Beach for some relaxation, shopping and beach time. 


There’s nothing I like more than a good book and a beach. 

Sometime you need to stretch and do something completely different — and we certainly did. 


My Left Breast