Dragon boating for life

February 14, 2012 | by Swati Kadam

Swati KadamI believe science is an inborn passion, but there are times when stress from failed experiments needs venting.

I’ve always been involved with sports since I was little, but there is very little time for oneself while working toward a Doctor of Philosophy degree, doing volunteer work and studying at the Keck Graduate Institute towards a Master of Bioscience degree. With all this, I still wanted to find an avenue to vent the stress I was under from everything I was doing.

After my first year at City of Hope as a doctoral candidate, I wanted to get involved in some sort of physical activity that didn’t involve an elliptical machine or a treadmill. I was tired of my daily routine at the local fitness center and wanted to explore other sports. I decided to find an adventure. After searching for local sports teams in the Los Angeles area, I found a dragon boating team in Long Beach, Calif. — the Rogue Warriors.Dragon boating is an ancient water-sport that recently has started to make its mark around the world. It is a paddling sport that originated in Southern China more than 2,500 years ago. A team of about 20 paddlers with a steersperson and a caller lead a boat in a race. During a race, paddlers sync their minds as the caller keeps time, by playing the Chinese drums.  Each paddle moves together, pulling water and moving the heavy wooden boat forward.

The Rogue Warriors have taken me to multiple dragon boat competitions all over California and Nevada. It is not only a way to get out of my daily rut, but it is also a way for me to relieve my stress and socialize with a completely different crowd. I cannot believe how warm and welcome my team can make me feel. A group of complete strangers makes me feel like I am part of their family.

Dragon boating didn’t just become a weekend activity where I relieve all my built-up frustration, but I also look forward to our weekend post-workout breakfasts and outings. It is a way to break-free from the daily enclosed lab environment to find open skies, the beautiful setting sun and the warm sand.

Doing an activity that I like, especially one where I can socialize with new people everyday and have the chance to feel like a team is therapy. It lets me start Mondays in the lab with full force and finish Fridays with a blast.

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