by Erica Ly
If you have ever looked for a new sport or extracurricular activity that challenges you and encourages you to strive for continual self-improvement, stop dribbling that basketball or soccer ball, and take a look into dragon boating.
You might have seen the pictures or videos online: narrow, intricately and brightly painted boats, often ornate with detailing to match the appearance of a dragon, gliding along the lake while sounds of drumming fills the air. As a child who had been to many dragon boating events around the city, it was always the synchronization that was the most fascinating to me. How long did the members have to train to accomplish that? What emotions crossed their minds as they pushed with their team to cross the finish?
Thanks to an interview with the University of Toronto’s own Liquid Assets Dragon Boat Team Co-Captain, Aaron Chow, none of my curiosities remain a mystery any longer.
For all who are unfamiliar with the activity, dragon boating is a team water sport which dates back centuries. It challenges the mind in concentration and synchronization, the body in strength and endurance, and the larger picture of co-operation and the importance of team spirit. In both domestic and international forms, a complete dragon boat crew usually consists of 20 paddlers, one steersperson and one drummer for a reliable beat to row along with.
Founded in 2007, the Liquid Assets are the official Dragon Boat team of Rotman Commerce (although you don’t have to be in Rotman to join). As strong believers in their founding principles the “Three Cs” – Commitment, Character and AthletiCism – this young team is determined to get their name out in regattas across the province. Having had their best year in 2016, from breaking into University Div A and placing 5th for the first time at the annual Centre Island Regatta, and also winning gold in the Div C Premier, 2017 will mark their tenth season.
Since high school, every student has heard the same message from teachers and parents emphasizing the importance and benefits of joining a sports team. According to Aaron Chow, this isn’t just a myth: “The accountability that comes in terms of practices, progress and nutrition stays with you in other aspects of your life too. I find myself much more disciplined, organized and on-top of my academics when I have my team studying with me and supporting each other.”
Dragon boating has also inspired him to strive for self-actualization: “I have learned that there’s always room for improvement. No matter how good we get as individual athletes or as a team, we set our eyes on the next goal and keep working at it.”
It’s no shock that dragon boating requires the type of persistence, strength, endurance, and flexibility that won’t persist without an intense workout. While others may find the routines repetitive and exhausting, the Co-Captain says, “I think our team’s success lies in the dedication of our trainers and recruits [as well as] their motivation to always get better…being a part of a team builds a sense of accountability that keeps you progressing through the toughest workouts.”
As clichéd as it may sound, at the end of the day when the workout is completed, the pain would only be temporary. Enjoying and making the best of the experience with your team is what lasts the longest, even after all your wins and losses.
Assuming that is not enough to motivate you to conquer those tough workouts, Chow recommends listening to the Liquid Assets’ favourite workout song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. Its strong beat is the perfect remedy to get you hyped for a huge race or that big personal record in the gym.
If you think the Liquid Assets team are just a bunch of gym-buffs who don’t know how to relax and enjoy times with their mates, think again. When asked about the the Liquid Assets’ best tradition, Chow immediately highlighted that “after our Centre Island Regatta every year, we create quite the scene carrying our coach and captains and taking them for a dunk in the Centre Island fountain…it has become a tradition on its own.”
It is true that you could join any Dragon Boat team on campus; however, Liquid Assets prides itself on its effort and commitment in creating a welcoming, family-like environment for all members. As the Co-Captain says: “Aside from being a strong, competitive team, it is also our goal to cultivate genuine, long-lasting friendships within the team.”
So if you’re interested in reaping the benefits of dragon boating, getting a rewarding workout or learning from knowledgeable trainers, challenge yourself and try-out! Everyone is welcome to attend the one of the two fit tests during November and February. The focus is also on your commitment to the team and your ability to gel with the members, so prior experience is not necessary!
Who knows? You might just find interest in a sport you never even knew you needed in your university life.
What do you think about dragon boating? Feel free to leave any questions or messages in the comments below!