Why is dragon-boat paddling recommended after breast cancer treatment?
In 1996 a Canadian doctor undertook research which proved that upper body exercise is beneficial for women who have had lymph nodes removed following breast surgery, in particular to manage or prevent lymphoedema (information here). He did this by setting up and monitoring a dragon-boat team (they called themselves Abreast in a Boat). Similar research was also undertaken in the UK in 2008 and had similar positive results (see here for further information). As a result of this research there are now 100s of breast cancer survivor dragon-boat teams around the world and they regularly meet at international and national events.
Do I need to be sporty to get involved with dragon-boat paddling?
You do not need to be sporty or fit to start paddling with Pool of Life. We welcome paddlers of all ages, shapes and sizes. All we ask is that you have completed your breast cancer treatment at least 3 months ago and that you have no medical reasons why you should not take up paddling (check with your doctor if unsure). You can train at a level that suits you and we offer plenty of training and activity options (see our training page here).
Do I need to be able to swim?
You do not have to be able to swim as you will be provided with a buoyancy aid (BA) to wear in the boat. You will be allocated a BA of appropriate size and shown how to fit this properly.
Is there any age barrier to taking part?
Our members’ ages range from 32 to 72! As long as you feel up to taking part, then we would like you in the boat. You can push yourself as little or as much as you like!
Will I be safe in the boat?
Dragon-boating is a safe sport. We have experienced coaches and helms leading the training sessions and the boat is very stable and highly unlikely to capsize. You will wear a buoyancy aid and we have a ‘buddy’ system to deal with any emergency that may arise.
Will I get wet?
Dragon-boating is a water sport and you may get wet (from paddle actions in the boat or from the rain). But with the right gear (a light-weight raincoat and possibly waterproof over-trousers) you will remain comfortable and warm. We have shower and changing facilities for you to change into dry clothes afterwards.
What should I wear?
Wear old clothes and have a complete change of clothes with you – this is a water sport and you may get wet! Light-weight layers are best, with a light-weight waterproof coat. You will get hot when exercising, so a thick fleece is not recommended, nor is denim as this holds the water when wet and makes you feel cold. Jewellery should not to be worn when paddling. Old trainers or wet shoes with a good grip on the sole of the footwear is advisable so you do not slip getting in and out of the boat – no Wellingtons please!
Will I be the only inexperienced paddler in the boat?
We have paddlers with a wide range of experience in the boat. Some have just started paddling and we get new members coming along for a session at most of our ‘pink paddle’ sessions (gentle sessions, 1st Sunday in the month). Other paddlers are very experienced and are able to assist and guide new members.
Can I bring a friend with me?
Friends and family are an important part of your support network and are welcome to paddle with us. However, once you feel confident with what to expect, you might want to come on your own as this will help you to get to know everyone and feel part of the group more quickly.
Can I do any ‘off the water’ exercises to compliment the dragon-boat paddling?
Some light hand-weight sessions can be beneficial, helping to build up the strength of your shoulders and back and help prepare you for paddling. If you don’t have hand weights, you can use filled water bottles. Start with light weights to be sure you get the technique right, then gradually build up and listen to your body. Suggested exercises are shown here: Land workout.