An evening of casual strolling around downtown Toronto on a Saturday evening led me to head over to the RAC for a quick workout session (for me, working out on the weekend makes subsequent indulgence guilt-free). As I made my way to the women’s change room, I was momentarily distracted by the rhythmic sounds of splashing water. My curiosity urged me to go ahead and check out whatever was happening at the pool.
I heard a loud and distinct “Sit up!” followed by “Paddles up!” and I saw a bunch of people sitting in an upright posture along both sides of the length of the pool holding up their paddles. Upon hearing “Take it away!” everyone plunged their paddles into the water and started synchronized stroke movements. It was a very unusual sight for me to see some 30+ people all paddling away in sync with an immense amount of energy and enthusiasm.
It was easy to see that the movements required a lot of effort, and the paddlers were trying their best to keep up with the instructions from the coach (who seemed to be very encouraging). I was so transfixed that I sat down on the benches with a friend and just observed the practice session. One thing that very distinctly stood out was the amazing team spirit that everyone had. For someone like me, who has always been afraid of trying out water sports, being interested to the point of actually wanting to take part in one is a pretty big deal.
In the following weeks, I went through the process of talking to a current RDB member, being told that the club is still looking for more girls and then finally signing up for my first ever practice session at the pool (but the last one for the team this season). My eagerness knew no bounds and I was impatient for the week to be finally over so I could try my hand at paddling. On the day of the practice, I was greeted by warm, friendly faces and given a waiver to sign along with some information about the club. All the time, I couldn’t simply wait to get started.
After finding the right paddle size, taking a position on the side of the pool, and being instructed about the correct posture, my paddle hit the water for the first time. All that came to my mind was- its way harder than it looks like! And I must admit that even though I keep myself physically fit, the stroke movements were something so unnatural that I couldn’t believe the effort it was taking my body to just keep up. After the practice, in spite of the nasty soreness in the upper body and the lower back, I decided that I definitely want to be a part of this.
I believe that at least once in life, everyone should throw themselves into something that’s new, different and challenging. It is surprising how well we can adapt to change, overcome our initial hurdles (could be fitness levels, skills, unfamiliarity with the task on hand) and start enjoying that same thing that we once thought we’re not good enough for. I’m glad I decided to foray into the world of competitive water sports with the Ryerson Dragon Boat Club and here’s to a wonderful (first) season of paddling!
Make sure to check out the video below for a glimpse at the RDB paddlers getting trained while having fun!