Survivor Dragon Boating

History of Survivor Dragon Boating:

In the fall of 1995, a research project was being conducted by Dr. Don McKenzie, a sports medicine physician and an exercise physiologist, at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. This study looked at cardiorespiratory fitness levels in two groups of women – one group had been treated for breast cancer, the other group had no history of breast cancer. The breast cancer group had many anecdotal stories about the “don’ts” they had been told after treatment. Most of this advice restricted activities involving the upper body. Though well intentioned, there was no published research that supported this information. A desire to return these individuals to an unrestricted, active lifestyle, as well as the lack of scientific proof to the contrary, were the impetus behind Dr. McKenzie’s idea to form this first all breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. Dragon boating was chosen as the sport for several reasons:

  • It is a strenuous repetitive upper body exercise
  • It provides an opportunity to work with a large group at one time
  • It provides a valuable training stimulus which results in a predictable improvement in fitness
  • It is an esthetically pleasing activity that is fun

In February 1996, in Vancouver, BC, the first team was formed calling themselves “Abreast in a Boat”. The organization has now grown to include a number of crews based in Vancouver and has inspired the formation of over 200 teams across Canada and worldwide including the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Italy.

You can find a list of teams here –