Florence Training

The countdown begins

-15Days -13Hours -42Minutes -34Seconds

Back in 2016, members from Pool of Life agreed to make every attempt possible to attend the International Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Festival, which is held every four years. Set on our mission, we have raised funds in a variety of ways and given thanks for all who have helped us. We have filled tubes of smarties with 20p pieces, held bag packs, jumped off buildings and completed a number of other events, including a virtual paddle from our dockland home in Liverpool to Florence, the host city for the 2018 event.

With all the fundraising almost complete, it’s now time for the real work to begin – the training.

The storms, snow, cold and winds abated as our paddlers set out for the first Florence Training Session. Throughout March and April, training sessions will be held every Sunday afternoon. Today’s session coincided with the 65th birthday of our regular helm, David Holt, so we were fuelled by cake and wearing birthday goggles as we took to the water.


The training sessions aim to give our helms the practice they need to keep a straight line, our drummers time to get into the perfect rhythm, and our paddlers the opportunity to improve their stamina and technique.

After a brilliant day, with much thanks to Carol for getting on helm, here is your homework:

Just as we do when we paddle, always remember to warm up before commencing any exercise. The following exercise tips are intended to be incorporated into your ‘off the water’ training regime, whether that is sessions in the gym, yoga, walking, running or anything else which gets your body moving and your heart rate up.

Carol, Chris and Paula – why not try using a wobble board and perfect your balance?

All paddlers -perfect the hand hold of your paddle.

1: Your gunnell hand should hold the shaft of the paddle at roughly a hand width above the blade. Your fingers should be entering the water with every stroke.

2: Your inner hand holds the t-bar with your fingers curled around the bar, and your thumb simply resting on the other side. It should look a little like a thumbs up 

with the fleshy part of the thumb resting on the paddle, and the thumb free to move your paddle in the direction you need it to go. If you grip the paddle in a fist it actually gives you less control of the paddle and less able to work with the curve of the boat.

Are you holding your paddle perfectly?

Try it this week, and give yourself a huge thumbs up


Hunch, or no hunch?

This week try to concentrate on your shoulders, and your upper frame. It stands to reason that having a strong frame, and powerful shoulders, you will be able to cleave your paddle through the water with optimum power.

Technique is everything. Getting your technique right will add power to every stroke, meaning it will take less out of you to achieve the same results. In a race situation, it will also mean you will always have something left in the tanks, which you can utilise to your team advantage.

When paddling, imagine you are drawing an arrow, ready to be fired out of a bow. Your chest and shoulders should be opening wide, allowing your gunnell arm to reach right around the paddler in front and giving you maximum time in the water.

Resistance training really helps with strengthening your shoulders and arms.

Using an elastic resistance band – or, in my case, a bungey rope – hold one arm straight out in front of you and draw the other arm back, as you would if you were drawing a bow and arrow. The smaller the distance between your hands, the stronger the resistance on the elastic. Try completing three sets of 10 reps on each side. You should feel a tension in your shoulders and your biceps.

To work the back, shoulders and triceps, place one hand against the small of your back, and the other behind your head. Holding the resistance band between the two hands, try to raise your upper hand towards the sky. Once again, see if you can complete three sets of 10 reps on each side. To increase the resistance, shorten the band.


The hard work has been paying off, and with the sun shining on the dock the Pool of Life team look powerful, committed and ready to take on the wonderful teams of equally powerful and committed paddlers making their way to Florence this July. Here’s a few photos of our training session



Happy paddling, Pool of Life