5 Reasons I Love Dragon Boat Paddling

Earlier, I had a chance to be a guest paddler with FDS. Some of my colleagues are thinking of organising a corporate paddle and I wanted them to see how it’s like to paddle with Filipino Dragons (Singapore).


With Daniel, Melissa, and Miriam.

It was nice of Daniel to mention (without me feeding it to him) that being with FDS feels like family. Yes, it’s very true with FDS. Having paddled with the team for four years, I learned many values like teamwork and relationship-building. We paddle as one. We have to be sync or we will fail. It’s something I apply in my career too.


Daniel introduced me to two of his friends (one of which is also my colleague from a different business unit). Glad they had fun! They commented later that they were so impressed with our women’s captain’s paddling form.


Definitely a beautiful day. I’m happy when I get to see my FDS family. They might not understand or see it from me much… but I miss them. ❤


Here are five reasons why I love dragon boat paddling:

You build your endurance. Paddling on weekends and doing additional training on Tuesdays and Thursdays builds not only your strength but your endurance. I noticed it’s helped me run faster and at greater distances. It works both ways. Running regularly has built my endurance and it’s made me paddle longer on the boat.

You learn the importance of teamwork. There are no divas on a dragon boat team. At least, there shouldn’t be. Teamwork is CRUCIAL. Everyone needs to paddle together and as ONE. When you paddle at your own pace, you break that teamwork and it will cause the boat to jerk. Being on a dragon boat team means you have to collaborate, listen, and do your part.

Your network increases with the number of friends you gain in a team sport. In the process of paddling, you expose yourself to a team filled with various professions and backgrounds. I’ve met teachers, architects, interior designers, IT professionals, retailers, call centre agents, advertising executives. It’s amazing.

You get a nice skin tan. I really don’t like pale skin… it’s a personal preference. I love the skin tan I get from dragon boating. It’s probably what I miss the most.

You can enjoy some occasional eye-candy and learn from it. This is true lol. Women and men. Gay, straight, lesbian. You name it. Such diversity and such eye-candy you’ll encounter. There are two ways to go about it. Be intimidated by those biceps. Or work your damn way to developing and building your own. In dragon boating, you’re surrounded by people who are dedicated to sports and fitness.


The rest in photos from today’s session… paddles up!


Paddling with Daniel, Melissa, and Miriam.


Leo… all tanned up!


Nice to see you all again!

What dragon boating means to me

Nine months of dragon boating.

I’ve seen improvements in my endurance and physique. When I first started, I would stop halfway during a 10-minute warmup drill. I would give up and start questioning myself, “Bakit ko ba ito ginagawa?”. I would look at my teammates with both envy and admiration. “Ang gagaling nila.”

With my physique, I no longer feel like the lanky pale-skinned guy I was before. I love my tan. I love it so much that when I see a cute guy with pale skin on the train, I frown. Ang boring siguro ng buhay niya (JUDGEMENTAL AGAD?!) Ayaw niya mag-paaraw. Siguro all he does is shop, gym, and stay indoors. In the past nine months, I get turned on by athleticism. Yung tipong kasama mo ang mga conscious sa health. People who challenge themselves and encourage others to reach their physical goals.

Physically, I feel slightly slightly toned. I still have tummy fat and average arms. Sa tingin ko, need lang mag gym and program to bulk up a bit. As for endurance, I am running farther and faster thanks to FDS training. I succeeded making personal best in 10km and 21.1km at the recent Sundown Marathon. Not as fast as my peers, but most definitely better than anything I’ve done before.

I may not have a firm chest, or have big biceps and triceps. Those are aesthetics I feel. What about substance? So many lean women on my dragon boat team… some even so petite and yet when they paddle, the water disappears. I’m so eager to gain strength. Even if I have tummy fat or little arms… Strength muna before aesthetics right?

Since dragon boating is a team sport, it helps when you hear encouraging remarks. I’ve had a fair share of pep talk from our training committee (mga kapitan), our coach (a former Philippine national team captain), and various seniors. Minsan napapaisip ako… siguro I keep getting called out kasi pansin nila mukhang hirap na hirap na ako. They push me to improve myself. But I am prone to second-guessing myself. 😦

Which brings me to say that after nine months of dragon boating, the other issue apart from the need for strength training is mental training. Mind over matter, right?

I find that when I second-guess myself, when I start focusing on my weaknesses… I distract myself and I doubt and lose focus. Suddenly it’s my mind that slows me down. Our team captain would scream, “It’s all in the mind!”. I feel totoo nga. Lalo na when you are in a sprint or at the last 100 meters of a 500-meter race. With splash in your eyes, the adrenaline of competition, commands being yelled “LONGS! READY??? GO!!!!”.

I guess I’m writing this now kasi despite wanting to be the best version of myself for the team, I am still struggling. I still hop onto the boat asking myself if I can survive the training program. When I’m paddling for eight minutes with two more minutes to go… losing my form is frustrating!

From zero sports participation to joining one of the most competitive expat teams in Singapore, it’s been a wild challenge. I should heed to physical, brute strength development and stop overanalyzing myself. I need to control my mind and stop doubting. Lalo na dito sa dragon boating. This is something I am committed to.

Dragon boating is a team sport. As an individual within a team, the greatest challenge I feel is to defeat self-doubt and to push myself beyond what is safe and comfortable.


Get notified on your news feed when I write something new! Like Bekpackr on Facebook. You can also follow me on Instagram (@bekpackr) and Twitter (@bekpackr).

Photos and Videos: FDS at the 32nd Singapore River Regatta (8-Nov-2014)

FDS won silver and bronze in the International Business Community Mixed and Open categories. You can see videos I took at the end of this post. We headed down to Boat Quay to watch them compete against other expat teams. I’ve never seen so many dragon boat teams in one spot. Congratulations FDS!

The rest in photos (and videos at the end).

Continue reading