Dragon boat promotes wellness on the water

DRAGON boats are not something you’d expect to see on Lough Erne, but you better get used to the idea.
Following visits by the Donegal Dragons and the Lagan Dragons, local charity Cancer Connect NI recognised the many health and wellness benefits of dragon boat paddling and so set up Devenish Dragons.
“The charity decided to introduce paddling to Fermanagh, and with Enniskillen being an island town where better to launch!” Breda McGrenaghan, Chairwoman, Cancer Connect NI, said.
Devenish Dragons first took to the water in Enniskillen on the evening of June 30, 2022, and they have been seen regularly since.
First originating in the Pearl River Delta region of China’s southern Guangdong Province, the dragon boats are generally 12 metres long and 1.2 metres wide at the widest point. A dragon boat can have anywhere from 16 to 20 paddlers, sitting in pairs. A drummer sits at the front of the boat (the bow) and calls or drums the tempo for each stroke.
Traditionally the drummer assists the coach by calling out practice drills and paddling instructions. The steerer stands at the back of the boat (the stern) and guides the boat through the water, keeping it on course.
It’s a tough workout and an exhilarating feeling as the boat flies through the water, but its health benefits are even greater.
In Canada in 1996, the first breast cancer survivors’ dragon boat team tested the effect of strenuous upper body exercise on lymphoedema and general well-being.
“The positive results of this groundbreaking research sparked the start of the cancer survivors’ dragon boat racing movement,” said Ms McGrenaghan.
“Results showed reduced symptoms of lymphoedema for those with the condition plus wider benefits for all paddlers in the team, who felt physically stronger and had more energy.
“The sport also provided them with a fun way of getting their lives back on track after their cancer experience.”
The Devenish Dragon Boat paddlers meet on Saturday and Sunday mornings before navigating the waters of Lough Erne.
‘I love being part of the Devenish Dragons boat team. It helps soothe my soul with every stroke of my paddle. When I take a break, I know the rest of the team have got my back. It’s my therapy on water after recovering from cancer,” one Devenish Dragons paddler said.
For more details contact call 07813 853027 or email for registration details and further information.

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