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Interview with Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club

different strokes dragon boating club sydney

Tanya White is the head coach of Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club. The club was formed in 2008 with the aim of providing a social and fitness-focused outlet for the LGBT community as well as their family, friends, and supporters. They have recently become the largest Dragon Boat club in NSW in terms of members as well as one of the most successful.

What got you into coaching dragon boat racing?

Over the 20 plus years I’ve been in the sport I have observed how dragon boating can positively impact people, providing a platform for self development.  It’s a community that embraces friendship and the absolute team nature of the sport provides a supportive place for people of any age and fitness to discover untapped potential. Coaching has given me an opportunity to give back to a community that has given me so much.

How long have you been involved with Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club and how have you seen it grow in your time there?

Over the 7 years I’ve been with the club we have more than doubled our numbers, doubled our coaching team and become a family of over 100 people ranging in age from 18 to 73 years. We are diverse but united in our primary goal of support for the LGBTQI community. As a self confessed competitive spirit my vision was to harness our sense of family to perform at elite level, and in doing so, enable members to discover their potential and show case our club and community on the world sporting stage. Today, the club is #1 in NSW, #1 in Australia and #7 in the world for various racing divisions. I am incredibly proud of our members who have embraced challenges, jumped boundaries and overcome doubt to reach their achievements.

What are some of the benefits you see dragon boat racing and specifically Different Strokes as providing for its participants?

It is a great stepping stone back into, or place to embark on sport and fitness. It is less intense on the lower limbs than field sports but still offers the strength and cardiovascular challenge to whatever level you wish to achieve. For those looking for more, the pathway of opportunity is short relative to other sports. If you are committed to your health and fitness and willing to work hard for yourself and your team, a goal towards state or national representation is very achievable.

At Different Strokes, our members goals range from social paddling to Australian team selection. We believe a basic understanding of strength and fitness is fundamental for injury management, safe technical execution and performance. We encourage our members to be their own coach and run various workshops throughout the season to build member knowledge around health, fitness, as well as paddling performance. We had a lot of positive feedback from the injury prevention workshop you ran for us this year, giving our members an insight into how the body works, how and why it can hurt, and what we can all do to prevent injury. It has been a great addition to the existing strength and fitness resources currently available to members

Any major events coming up for yourself and Different Strokes?

The club is currently preparing for Australian Championships in the ACT, it is the qualifier for the next club crew world championships in France 2020. Wish us well! For me personally, in May I will be paddling the Thames River in the UK from source to sea with some friends. I was born in England so looking forward to exploring the 2nd longest river in Britain.

Best health tip?

I am absolutely passionate about health and fitness for quality of life. Our bodies are an intricate and resilient piece of machinery. My health tip(s).

  1. Get strong.
  2. Get mobile.
  3. Just eat real food.

Whatever your age, never take your mobility for granted. Whether it’s chasing the grand kids, or climbing mountains and paddling rivers, it’s your joints and muscles that will get your there. Look after them.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

In 2004 I sat alongside a breast cancer survivor on our way to represent Australia at the world championships in China. We were musing over our nerves when she turned to me and said.. ‘don’t wait to be told you’re going to die to learn how to live’…. they were very powerful words to hear in your early 20’s and remain so today.

Dragon boating has a large community of breast cancer survivors. You can learn their story here.

Next place on your travel bucket list?

Somewhere in South East Asia. There are some amazing places to explore. Son Doong cave in Vietnam is high on the hit list, as are some of the trail runs through Vietnam and Thailand. Choices!

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