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Paddlers in the Pink Singapore

by Katherine Goh

Like many dragon boat teams all around the world, the Singapore Breast Cancer Foundation - Paddlers in the Pink team had to put a stop to our routine training sessions at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. As restrictions ease in early 2021, the team was able to gradually return to a semblance of normality. We started with 4 paddlers and gradually progressed to 8. We took a setback in April this year when we had to stop paddling again due to heightened awareness of community spread of the new COVID strain. Fortunately, from June 2021, we were able to get back to paddling in 4s! Woo Hoo …

We will remember this time of crisis for its surreal calm and quiet - the familiar smell of the Kallang River where we paddle; the beautiful Merdeka Bridge where we take refuge from the blazing sun and thunderstorms; the boat nursery where we gather to wash and keep our boats; the cafe where we meet for coffee after training; the empty sports stadium where we gather every Saturday morning for boot camps. These are the venues and the activities we miss so much during the lock down. Our team has turned to creative ways to bond and to keep ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally engaged. To keep fit, the team organised virtual boot camps. The ladies stayed on screen even after the class ended just to catch up and “see” each other because we miss our paddling sisters so much. The team also organised small groups for long walks of more than 20km. Some of the ladies organised informal hikes in small groups (up to 2 or 5 depending on the current government guidelines), others participated in virtual cooking contests and virtual karaoke sessions to stay in touch with one another. Overall, there is an incredible increase in solidarity and unexpected positivity arising from the pandemic crisis.

We are glad that we have resumed most of our activities (donning mask right after each exercise), but we are not out of the woods yet. As a BCS team with some members who are immunocompromised, we constantly remind ourselves not to become complacent, but to continue to keep vigilant and to stay safe. It will be a long pull all the way, but with teamwork and endurance, we will overcome and reach the finish line stronger ever!