CYSM Sea Dragons


Racing out of a pandemic

Published Mon 29 Nov 2021

What the pandemic has reminded us of is the importance of prioritising our physical and mental health. This was the motivating force for one of our newest members, Kelvin Chan, who has just debuted in his first dragon boat regatta. Let's hear a little more about his experiences so far.

"Over the past few years, I prioritised studying and working, taking pride in my academic achievements. However, it was not until the pandemic that I realised that I had forgotten to prioritise one of the most important things in life - my health.

“When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”  This quote by Augusten Burroughs has resonated with me. As such, at the start of 2021, I set myself one simple goal: to be a healthy person physically and mentally.

Whilst searching for a new team sport to participate in, I came across a recruitment ad for dragon boating on the Monash Stalkerspace FaceBook group.  As a person who had never participated in any water sports except for swimming, I thought “this might be fun to try out”.

My first day on the boat was cold and windy - a typical Melbourne winter. However, despite the cold morning and nearly freezing my toes off, I had an awesome day. Everyone was encouraging and spent their time showing me the correct paddling techniques. At the end of the session, one of the team members asked, “are you coming back next week?”. I replied, “yep, you’ll be seeing me.”

Fast forward to my first ever regatta in Ballarat (21 November 2021). I was initially hesitant in signing up for this 200 m regatta as I didn’t think that I had learnt how to walk yet, let alone sprint! However, the coaches and team members all insisted that it would be a good learning experience, regardless of the results we achieve.

In the end, I am glad that I participated.

Ballarat Regatta

It was a cold, windy morning again and I was definitely not dressed for the “winter” morning in November! But everyone was kind and made sure that I was warm when I was not racing. The atmosphere was amazing; all the teams were setting up their marquees, hanging their paddles up on the side of the marquees in the morning. Later in the day, there was live music in the background, and people cheering on the shore for the teams that were racing.

The sun finally came out at midday, and it was my time to race. My first two races in the Mixed 10s were subpar in my opinion. I was not in the zone and I did not feel connected to everyone on the boat.

After the race, the coaches came up to me and emphasized what we have been training all along - "reach, complete the catch, drive, recover and maintain the rhythm".

It was time for the Open 20s. It was my last race of the day... and I gave it everything when I heard the word “GO!”

"Reach, catch, drive, and recover" I repeated mentally as we paddled towards the finish line.

I felt connected to everyone on the boat this time.

Ballarat Regatta

The drummer and sweep's commands of “more power!” and “drive it” gave everyone on the boat more strength as we powered to the finish line. In less than a minute, the race was run.

It was an amazing experience, and I am glad that I signed up for this regatta.

I would like to thank the CYSM Sea Dragons for welcoming me into the family and helping me achieve my personal goals this year. It would be my honour to help the team achieve its goals in the coming years."

- Kelvin Chan


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