FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Dragonboating?


Dragonboating is an international venture proven to improve fitness and rehabilitation after breast cancer surgery. It's a team sport and we encourage family members and friends to take part as well. Normal crew is 20 people, a helm and a drummer.




Why is Dragonboating beneficial for those who have been through breast cancer?


Evidence has shown that exercise after breast cancer is not only safe, but beneficial. The specific movement of paddling can play an important part in preventing and/or improving lymphoedema, a chronic swelling of tissues that can occur due to surgery. Apart from the obvious physical benefits, it is also hugely beneficial for mental health and well-being, plus boosting energy levels and promoting better sleep.




Do you need experience to join?


No experience is necessary. All levels of fitness are welcome, we help each other and have a bit of fun!




When and where does the training take place?


When there are no Covid restrictions there is training from Castleconnell Boat Club on the River Shannon on Tuesday and Thursday evening and once at the weekend during the summer season (March to October). During the winter, training is limited to once at the weekend in if weather conditions allow.
In addition, a second boat operates for pre-members, new members and those who like to paddle at a gentle pace. This ‘Gentle Pacers’ boat is on the water every Thursday evening at O’Brien’s Bridge during the summer season.




How much does it cost?


There is an annual membership fee that covers insurance, use of Shannon Dragons equipment and Castleconnell Boat Club facilities. Full details are available on the Membership form on our Membership page. While training is included in the membership fee there might be occasions when a small fee is requested if training is being provided by an external coach. So as to provide the widest possible access to all people the committee will consider, on an exceptional basis, either a reduction to or a waiver of the annual subscription to the club.




Do you have to be able to swim?


No. You will always be wearing a pfd (personal floatation device)/buoyancy aid, which we provide. In the very unlikely event that you find yourself in the water, you can’t sink. You will be required, with your assigned buddy, to dog-paddle your way to the river bank wearing your pfd, and you do need to be able to do this.




What should I wear?


We usually arrive dressed to go on the water. This depends on the weather and the season. Usually, a pair of NON-COTTON leggings, an old pair of runners or equivalent, a synthetic t-shirt, or a synthetic/thermal/wool/long-sleeved top, and a light wind-cheater with a hood, or a woolly cap. Bring a change of clothes for when you get off because you will probably get splashed. Also, some water to sip during breaks on the boat is a good idea, though single use plastic bottles are not allowed. Due to Covid restrictions we encourage just a small bottle be taken on the boat that can be stored inside the pfd rather than rolling around the boat.




What happens when I arrive?


On arrival, expect to be greeted with a smile! Introduce yourself as a newcomer, and ask for Brid or the helm, so they can introduce you around.
You will be helped to select a suitable pfd. (No-one goes on the water without one of these). You will also be helped select a suitably sized paddle.
We do a warm-up routine and a safety talk/check. We do a quick demonstration of how to do the paddle stroke.
You may be asked to help to get the boat on the water, but for safety for yourself and the boat(!) please wait for directions from experienced crew, especially when we get to the water’s edge. This can be very slippy.
NEVER step into the water if you are helping to get the boat on or off the water – you may see other people doing it – that’s because they are/should be wearing suitable non-slip footwear. Please remember, you are responsible for your own safety, and don’t put yourself at risk of slipping on a wet surface. Care should be taken when the boat is being unloaded from the trolley into the water, it is best to observe this procedure for your first session and only help when asked as at this stage.
The helm will select your seating position. The helm will be looking at level of experience, boat balance, etc. You will see from observing others how to safely take your seat.
Once on the water, the Helm/coach is in charge and we all follow her/his directions.
We ‘number off’. This means you shout out your number in sequence, and you remember it so that in the event of a capsize, it is easier to check that everyone is safe. (An unplanned capsize has never happened, and is never likely to happen, just to re-assure you!) Once the session begins, we all paddle to the same rhythm – that means, all paddles enter the water at the same time, great fun learning this!! The helm/coach will call directions and you will catch on quickly what these mean: Examples:
“Ready, Attention, GO!” This means you assume the starting position for making your first paddle stroke, and when the helm/coach shouts go, everyone pulls the paddle through the water at the same time.
“Easy up” or “Let it run” means stop paddling and take a breather. (Of course, you can stop any time you need to, just tell your buddy beside you so she can stop too.)
“Stop the Boat” means stop paddling and use your paddle in the water as a brake – no bother.
“Brace the Boat” means leave the blade of the paddle resting on the surface of the water out sideways from you.
There are a few others, but these will get you started. Getting off the water
Basically, the same rules apply as for getting on the water. Unloading starts from the front of the boat, again be careful not to step in the water, and follow directions when asked to do so.
You will be asked to help in giving the boat a quick clean before returning it to storage.
There is a very important warm down (be kind to your muscles and joints) and quick team chat before getting changed into dry clothes and leaving the boat club.
In between all this stuff, we have the best craic you could imagine. We hope you enjoy your paddling experience and join the Shannon Dragons journey, see you on the water!





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