Aging Horizons “Dragon Boating”

Aging Horizons “Dragon Boating”


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program host. – Hi, everyone. Today on Aging Horizons, we’re gonna be talking
about dragon boating and dragon boating racing, or dragon boat
racing, I guess it is. Really, really fun activity that I’ve just
learned about myself, and we have a couple of folks that have been very involved in starting some
groups in Montana, and doing some races. It’s gonna be a really fun show with lots of fun
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agency on aging, or adult protective services at 1-844-277-9300. – Hi everyone, and
welcome to Aging Horizons, brought to you by the
Department of Public Health and Community Services. I’m your host, Kimme Evermann, and today I think we
have a pretty fun show. We’re gonna be talking
about dragon boating, and dragon boat racing, something that I
didn’t know existed, and when I started to
research it and talk to people who had seen some of
these great boats, I got really excited and knew
it was a perfect show topic. So, we have with us, Nancy Gillespie, hi Nancy. – Hello.
– Glad to have you. – Glad to be here.
– And we have JoAnne Thun, JoAnne, very nice
to have you here. Thanks.
– Thanks for inviting us. – So tell us, just so we
can have a little baseline, what is dragon boating,
and how did it get started? – Well, dragon boating
is a ancient sport. It started in China
in the Yangtze River. And it went out of fashion during China’s cultural
revolution in the 20th century. Dragon boating served
as a community event. The wellbeing of the people
is the primary mission. – [Kimme] Right,
and I was amazed, 2300 years ago is
when this started, and I just couldn’t
believe my eyes. And yet here we
are in almost 2020, and it’s still a great sport. – And it’s a thriving sport. – [Kimme] It is. Now I know that you’re from
the team here in Helena, but we have teams all
over the state, don’t we? – [JoAnne] We do. – And so we’re gonna
go into how to find out all about of that, but this is not just here,
it’s all anywhere in the state. And you have something
coming up too, a big festival, right?
– Yes. – When’s that? – That is September
sixth, seventh and eighth. – And it’s in?
– It’s in Big Fork. – [Kimme] Big Fork
this year, okay. All right so Nancy,
let’s go to you. How big is a dragon boat? ‘Cause it’s pretty huge. (laughing) – Okay, dragon boats, they are 39 feet long,
and 3 feet 10 inches wide. It weighs about 550 pounds. And during competitions, we put a dragon
head on the front, and then it becomes
42 feet long. – [Kimme] So how many
people are in there? ‘Cause I read there
was kind of a range, but it seems like a
pretty tight range. – [Nancy] Well, usually
there are 22 people, that’s 20 paddlers, plus
a drummer at the bow and a steer person in the back. Paddlers do not switch sides
like they do in kayaking, They stay in their seats. – [Kimme] Sure, and
they’re on one side, and they have a
person next to them? – Yes, doing the other side.
– Do the other side, got it. – And everyone leans out for balance.
– Okay, for balance. (laughing) – Because we have seen
one person lean in, and the whole thing go over, but we’ll talk about that later. – [Kimme] (laughs) Yeah, I
saw that tipping over one. (laughing) – It doesn’t happen very–
– So it’s 22 people. – [Nancy] 20 people plus. – The two? Yes, okay. And then the drummer is, what’s that drummer doing? – Well, he’s sitting
in the front, and he’s setting the
tempo with the drum. And sometimes it’s
a relaxed tempo, and sometimes it’s
a faster tempo. And the people in the front row, of which she is,
because she’s petite and fits in this tiny bow, they set the pace and the
tempo for the whole boat. And they work very
closely with the drummer. There are times where you
want a extra push of power, so he gives us a code, and
then we go faster and stronger. – Okay, one other
thing that I read that sort of made me sad, you can’t talk when you’re
in the boat, can you? Only the people that are at
the either end are talking. Everybody else is
supposed to be quiet. – Well, the whole thing is, if you ever read the story of
the 1943 American Olympics, they had obstacles. You have to keep your
focus in the boat. If you have a cramp,
you ignore the cramp. Wou just concentrate
on the drumming and the rowing, and
you power through it. It’s a very
interesting sport, fun. But you don’t think
about anything else but what you’re doing. – [Kimme] You’re
just laser-focused, which makes all the
sense in the world. Now, JoAnne, where are some
of the races that are held? Where do you race? – Well we race at
Anna, Flathead, at the festival in September. But we also, there’s races all over
the United States, and all over the world. – [Kimme] Okay, so lots of
other people are doing this? – Yes, it’s a very
popular sport now. It’s the most popular sport,
it’s growing every year. It’s the most
popular team sport. – Well and I think
one of the things that y’all said to me was
it’s the ultimate team sport. – [JoAnne] It is. – Because you’re so
focused on working together to get that job done, right? – And we’re in total harmony, in sync we call it. – Like any sport, you have to work for
the good of the whole. – [Kimme] Right, and you know, I don’t know which of
you gave me this quote, but you did a great zen quote. Let’s talk about it, ’cause we’ll have to say
it again, about obstacles. – Okay, well we
started six years ago. We had no boat. There were a handful of
people that came together, and we showed up at Kalispell with no experience,
no equipment. – And no idea. (laughing) – No identity, at least we
have a bee identity now. And we just loved it so much, and year by year,
we just got better. – Faster, stronger. – And, you know, we– There was a man in
Bozeman, Terry Johnson, who helped us by lending
a lot of information, and his practice boat to us.
– Wow. – And that’s what
we’ve been practicing. – [Kimme] So you’ve just
been trudging through. Folks, we have a lot more
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help is available. You do not have to do it alone. – [Announcer] Ask your doctor
about diabetes education or visit Montana211.org. – Hi folks, welcome
back to Aging Horizons. We’re here talking about
dragon boat racing today. JoAnne, let’s start with you. There’s a festival coming
up that we’ve talked about. Talk about the races
at something like that. – Okay, they’re very
competitive and exciting. And it’s common to have
50 to 80 teams participate in the festival. These teams are
divided into divisions, so there’s the women’s team, there’s the mixed,
or co-ed team, with 10 women and
10 men, mostly. And then there’s the open, super highly competitive team that participates in that. And they are very experienced. And one of our teams
in our state, Bozeman, has won national awards. – [Kimme] Oh, how wonderful! – Yes.
– Yeah, that’s awesome. And it sounds like you have, what I read was that you do
a couple of qualifying races each day or throughout
the festival? – Yes, so we start. Friday is the day
that we can practice. So we can practice on
a real dragon boat. So teams that don’t have
a boat to practice in will start on Friday. And they can just practice, and there’s coaches available, and they’ll tell ’em
exactly what to do and how to do it. – [Kimme] So they don’t
have to be scared. – They don’t have to be nervous, everybody takes care of ’em and teaches them the right
way to move the boat. – My eyes have been opened
learning about this, because at first I thought, how could you do this
if you were maybe older or maybe a person with a
disability, but you can. There’s lots of places
where you can fit in, right? – Exactly, yeah you
can be disabled, you can be– Well, in fact, there was a
team years ago when we started, that you had to be 80 years
old to be on the boat. (laughing) – [Kimme] Yay! – So it was, (laughs) it was the octogenarians.
– Genarians. There you go, that’s perfect! Okay, so Nancy,
– Very fun. – how does a person
get started doing this? – Well, first you
just have to show up, have an interest. So people can find, like she found out about
dragon boat racing by an ad, and we have a website,
– Right. And we’re gonna put that up.
– and we have a Face– we have a Facebook account. We practice out at
Lakeside, twice a week. So just show up and view it. There’s always a seat for
someone to come and try it out. We have extra paddles. This is our dragon boat paddle. It is not a canoe paddle. (giggling) It’s a special size.
– Oh wow! – It’s a special width, and it doesn’t have
as long of a neck. Because when you
paddle, it’s in a V. It’s a special, the way you hold your arms
and the way you paddle. And you go in and come out at– But we would teach everyone this technique.
– Right, right, exactly. – And then if you like it,
we have extra life jackets, we have extra paddles, we’ll
always have an extra seat. And let someone try. And then as time goes on, if they love it,
they join the club. If they’re in a town
that has nothing, like we did six years ago. You know generations
of things happen small, and then they build. They might start their own team, or just show up at the
festival with no experience and get your first experience
like we did six years ago. – [Kimme] Right, and
just enjoy it and think, I’m just gonna try that. – That’s right.
– I think that’s a wonderful idea, but what do
people do in the off season? – Well– (women all laughing) We ski, we hike, we bike. – [Nancy] We camp. – We go caving, I mean, we’re very, a lot of
us are very versatile. – And I think, one of the
things that I’ve learned, I think anyway, from researching
some of this is that, if maybe you’re
like me, in your 50s or early 60s, start now, and you’re gonna be okay
by the time you’re 80 to still be doing that.
– Absolutely. – Or even if you’re 80,
if you feel up to it, I know what I read was, do what you think
you’re able to do. And if you, you know,
that’s good enough. And I think that’s
a very inclusive, sort of special part
of what this is. – And why I love it so much is because people
help each other. And at the festival, there’s people that
need extra paddlers, and we’re happy to give
them our extra paddlers So real community building.
– if we have any. It’s really community building, I love that part of it. – And you get to
meet people from, not only around the state, but as you said,
around the world, because it’s like 60 countries
where they do this racing. – And the people that
start or have the boats and put it on are from Canada, – Oh, really?!
– Edmonton, Canada. – Really?
– Edmonton and Lethbridge. – [Kimme] And how
many years have we had this kind of festival
here in Montana? – 10 years.
– 10 years. – [Kimme] Oh wow! So is this the 10 year
anniversary coming up? – I guess.
– Or has it already passed? – I think so.
– We should celebrate. (laughing) – [Kimme] Girls! Of course you should!
(women laughing) I get a T-shirt, because
I gave you the idea. (laughing) – Well Kimme, we’ll
just get you one. – Well get you one.
– And we’ll invite you to come paddle with us. Would you like to come?
– You know what? I just might. That sounds like an
awfully fun idea. Now, I think we have a whole
lot more to talk about, because there’s some
gettin’ wet stuff in this that we gotta make
sure people know about. We’ll talk about that
when we come back. Folks, I hope you’re having
as much fun as we are here in the studio today. This is a really
fun activity that, it doesn’t matter
how much you can do. If you wanna just try a
little, you’re welcome. So stay with us, we have a
whole ‘nother segment to go. (upbeat music) – [Announcer] Providing
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how to stay safe online. To learn more, visit my website. – Hi, folks, welcome
back to Aging Horizons. We’re talking about
dragon boat racing today with JoAnne and Nancy, so
great to have you both here. JoAnne, let’s start with you. I was gonna say, gotta
put my glasses back on. You know, race day comes along, and what do you need
to do to plan for that? Because you’re not gonna show
up in snow suit, obviously. (laughing) – No, but you wanna be warm
enough because race day, it is the second
weekend of September, so it gets a little cooler,
– That’d be chilly, yeah. – especially early
in the morning. And sometimes these
heats will start at 7:30. So you have to be prepared. So I always wear layers and then our
T-shirts, our antenna, because we’re bees.
(laughing) And we wear tu-tus. And we also wear tights that can get wet and
dry really quick. – [Kimme] Great, because
that’s the point– One of the things I
wanted to bring up was you’re gonna get wet. – Absolutely.
– There’s just, there’s just no way around it. You’re gonna get wet,
so plan for it, right? – Yeah, and you always
wear your life jacket. It is really important,
and we emphasize that. – Right, because I think one thing we need
to remember is that we’ve laughed and had
a good time today, but safety is really,
really important. – Really important.
– And especially if you’re a person
who hasn’t done it as long as maybe you two have, you wanna make sure you’re safe, so you’re learning good habits and keeping yourself
above water, if you will. – [JoAnne] Yes.
(laughing) It is important. – Nancy, what about some
of those safety issues? You know, we were kind of
giggling about the boat tipping over because of
just the way they’re built, but that does happen sometimes, and you have to be very
careful about that. You said that the race
organizers are always looking at that sort of thing. – Right, and the organizers
make sure that they have accredited life jackets
for people to wear, regulation paddles, the
boats are all the same, but they also are keeping
everyone safe by having boats out there in
case of a turnover. One time, like four
years ago, we had, they were always watching
barometric pressure and weather,
– Wind. – And.
– And wind, yeah. – It was predicted
that the waves would be five or six feet
high by two o’clock, so they started all
the races really early. And it was very cold
that morning, (giggles) but we got all the races
done by like 10 o’clock. And should someone, we have not gone over yet, but should a boat go over, they have craft out there that get to that
boat and those people within seconds.
– Oh good. – And they get everyone to
shore, they tow the boat in. So it’s a very safe and very guarded sport. – Well and I, I mean, think
I wanna point out that just because you’re a senior, doesn’t make you any
more prone to drowning as a 16-year-old
or a 25-year-old, You’re all at that risk. And so the safety measures
that you’re talking about are so very important.
– Exactly. – And being able to
get to people quickly. Nowm I did wanna ask you
about something that I found in researching your notes
that sounded so great to me. I heard there’s teams made
up of breast cancer survivors – There is.
– and also disabled paddlers, or paddlers with disabilities. How does that– What’s that look like? – Well it is wonderful
to see all these women dressed in pink.
(heavily breathing) And they have a ceremony, and they talk about some of
the women that have passed on because of breast cancer and some of the people that
have beat breast cancer. And it’s very inspirational
and emotional, but they always do a ceremony, and the ceremony
involves putting a rose in the lake at the
end of the ceremony, and it’s absolutely beautiful, because it honors the people that have passed. – [Kimme] Well and also,
I read in your notes that these breast cancer
survivors actually, in checking with some research, found out that that
might actually be
very helpful for them in keeping the lymphoedema
away, doing the paddling. – And this is a man, this was a doctor
in British Columbia that did the research on this. And years ago,
people were told that exercise would increase
the problem of lymphoedema. But he found out that not
only did it give the body the exercise that
didn’t have the fluid under the muscles pool, but it also made a community
of like people together. And I think that bond
makes friendships forever. – [Kimme] Oh weell what JoAnne just talked about
with the rose ceremony and all those people in
pink coming together, nothing better than finding ways to bring the community together. – Exactly
– And didn’t Me-zula just buy two boats
just for breast cancer? – Just for breast cancer.
– Oh, yay! – Yeah.
– Isn’t that wonderful? – Mm-hm.
– Mm-hm. – [JoAnne] They have two teams. – Well this has just been
the funnest show for me, and I just wonder, is there anything
that you wanted to say before we sign off today, Nancy? – Well, we’ve had
a lot of obstacles, haven’t we?
(laughing) – And we have.
– Life is obstacles. You know, we’ve heard the term, “It’s not the end result, it’s
the journey that matters.” Well for many, for us,
it’s been many obstacles. And you have to
face them head on, and so the obstacles
become the journey. But you know, our boat
is gonna be bright yellow with black,
– With black. (Kimme laughing) – and we’re going to have
sort of a press release. Can I invite you to that? – Sure! (laughs)
– Okay. – Yes. – But we would, you know, it’s– (sighs) I did professional
racing in New England, but this is the most fun, – Aw.
– exciting, worthwhile – Great.
– friendship-building community.
– And it’s for everyone. – And it’s for everyone.
Folks, this is not just for youngs, this is for young at hearts. So check it out,
– There we go. – and we’ll see you next
time on Aging Horizons. (calm music) – [Announcer] Special thanks to the Department of Public
Health and Human Services for their continued support. Hosts on Aging Horizons
are program specialists at the Montana office on aging. Production facilities
provided by Video Express Productions. For more information
about Aging Horizons, call the Department of Public
Health and Human Services toll free at 800-332-2272. (upbeat music)

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