• Joining Mayo Synchronicity: A first-timer’s perspective on Dragon Boat racing

Ooooh, a Dragon Boat race! I have always wanted to be on a rowing team. Maybe I missed my calling to be on a great collegiate team at a Division I school. Well, honestly, I like boats, and after all these years, I will love reducing my two-liter to a six pack. So why not?!

Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus is participating in the 6th annual Tempe Dragon Boat Festival, March 28-29, 2009, at Tempe Town Lake, sponsored by the Arizona Dragon Boat Association. After two gold medal years, I heard we were edged out of first place last year by a local office of ING Direct, and I have a competitive spirit. So, with this team of diverse Mayo Clinic employees, I say, "we will see the others at the finish line and be ready to wrap their wounds!"

Louise, a Mayo Clinic employee and dragon boat guru, is one of the site coaches for our team, Mayo Synchronicity. When I joined her for my first "land" practice two weeks ago, she asked, "Do you workout? Ab exercises? Because a strong midsection will be your source of strength." I said, "Oh, of course," and my inside voice finished the sentence with, "as of last week ... ." Note to self, sign up for the Ab Works class this week!

Louise gave great instruction as she explained the commands used, and the new language I would soon need to understand.

"Now, it is important you know terms like: PMS, Port - Midship - Starboard, Long-stroke, Paddles up, Power 10, etc," she said. I thought this was going to be fun, so I attended the next land practice and also recently attended my first water practice, quickly concluding that I needed more practice. So I practiced with our 40 team members at Tempe Town Lake.

With fellow employees, Marion as the Steer and Michael at the head as the Drummer calling out the stroke pace, we were doing great. Then we raced a local Hawaiian in his own boat, during our practice. Let's just say that was "just for fun."

Well, I am off to Ab Works and 30 minutes on the rowing machine. Our race is less than a week away. Wish me luck, and I'll soon share pictures of the 2009 team and our winning ribbons for the Corporate Race, Mixed Competitive Race, and for the fifth year in a row, the Best Spirit Award.

To learn more about this water event that commemorates China's ancient patriot-poet, Qu Yuan, and our race in Tempe, Arizona, visit azdba.com. Better yet, what are you doing Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29th? There will be great food and fun for all ages. Come on out to cheer us on and enjoy the Festival! When I say "May," you say "O" -- Go May-O!

Yvette ready to row!
Yvette ready to row!

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