After a winter spent on the chilly waters of Cul-tus Lake, a new dragon boat team hopes to paddle its way to Europe this summer.
The Sudden Impact Dragon Boat Club's new Senior B Storm women's squad joined forces last summer with the goal of qualifying for the 2014 world championships in Italy.
It's not a small goal, but that's the whole point of the 49-and-over squad.
"Most of the women on the team have dragon boated for a number of years and they just wanted to take it up that one extra level and be more competitive," Audrey Nadalin said.
That means that while many teams are just starting to hit the water, the Storm have been practicing on Cul-tus Lake every weekend since October (save for a break around Christmas). They'll take part in several regattas this summer, including the Canadian Dragon Boat Championships in Victoria in August.
Nadalin, 57, says most of the members are between the ages of 55 and 60.
She says dragon boating fosters a camaraderie, especially among women's teams. And it's a great way to stay physically fit.
But there's something else about the sport that turns certain paddlers into the type of person willing to paddle a boat in January.
"I don't think of myself as a competitive person, but if you put me in a boat with a paddle in my hand, I find out that I'm more competitive than I thought I was," Nadalin said.
The Storm have enlisted former Olympian Kamini Jain as their coach. It has been up to Jain-who finished eighth in the K-4 500 metres in Athens in 2004-to turn the Storm into a team and get all the athletes paddling the same stroke, at the same time.
Nadalin, who has been paddling for 10 years, said Jain has been an inspiration.
"I can do a lot more than I thought I could," she said.
The Storm are still recruiting. Paddlers should have at least one year of experience and must be at least 49 years old. For more information contact Nadalin at 604-7938168.
Several other local teams and groups are also welcoming new paddlers.
More than a dozen teams are based out of Chilliwack and run the gamut from non-competitive recreation teams, to junior squads, and those comprised only of breast cancer survivors.
Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club is recruiting paddlers for its various teams and inviting the public to try the sport. For information about the sport and teams, visit www.fvdbc.com or email Trisha Kjemus at email@example.com. The club has expanded their paddling sport and recently purchased a new OC6 boat named Valley Spirit.
The Crusaders Dragon Boat Team is looking for active new recruits interested in learning to paddle and outrigger.
The club practices every Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre. The Crusaders also offer an ongoing open outrigger practice on Harrison Lake. Call 604-792-9336 (evenings) or 604-792-9252 (days) as seats are limited.
Spirit Abreast dragon boat team is open to all ages of breast cancer surviviors. Visit www.spiritabreast.org.
The Spirit of Fraser Valley youth dragon boat team is also welcoming new members aged 13 to 18.
For more information contact Steve Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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