A dragon boat is a colorful fiberglass boat adorned with a dragon head at the bow and a tail at the stern. Dragon Boats are about 40 feet long, carry 20 paddlers, a steersperson and a drummer who sets the paddling cadence.
Dragon Boat racing has been an honored tradition in Chinese communities for over 2,000 years. It emerged in modern times as an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976.
Dr. Don McKenzie, a Canadian Sports Medicine specialist, pioneered a study in 1996 in which a group of breast cancer survivors paddled dragon boats to challenge the dogma that they should avoid repetitive activities for fear of developing lymphedema – a painful swelling of the arm that sometimes complicates breast surgery. He found that those who paddled reported improved physical, social and emotional well-being. Since that time, breast cancer survivor dragon boat teams have continued to form throughout the world, spreading the message that a full and active life is possible after a diagnosis of breast cancer!