The ancient sport of Dragon Boat Racing is catching fire around the world and right here in South Florida.
For the past three years, the SoFlo Dragons boat racing team has represented the Magic City in competitions across the country. Once a week, members of the Dragons meet on the shores of Watson Island to practice for hours.
Team member Phong Luu says the team must be strong, but it’s also about timing.
“You can see the synchronized sensation. It’s not just about the paddling part, but mentally," Luu said.
The team typically consists of 20 paddlers in one long canoe shaped boat. Each vessel has a dragon head at the front and a dragon tail at the back.
“This sport has helped me heal spiritual, mentally, physically," said co-captian Donna Lyons. "I am so proud. I have muscles finally.”
Lyons is so inspired by the sport that she helped form the Dragons in Miami. For centuries, dragon boat racing has always been a big part of Asian culture as it’s on money and on television.
The ancient tradition dates back 2,000 years when a well-known statesmen threw himself into the Mi Lo River in southern China.
“The people love him so much that they went into the water to beat the dragons and fishes away," Lyons said. "And that is how dragon boat started.”
Along with fostering a healthy lifestyle, the team is highly competitive. The team has won a number of trophies and medals. Lyons says the team is open to anyone who is ready to put in the work.
“We welcome anyone no matter what your ethnic background," Lyons said. "Whether you are a beginner or not. You can join no matter what your age whether you are 16 or 67 like me. “
For more information on the SoFlo Dragons, click here.