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Fast Five 'Father's Day' Edition: Neville & Caitlin

Welcome to the Fast Five Series, where we chat all things dragon boating with some of the club's members, in five short questions. It’s Father’s Day this Sunday, so in honour of all the fantastic father's we have in the club, we'll be featuring one of DSA’s awesome dad and daughter duos, Neville and Caitlin. Happy Father's Day!

Image: Neville and Caitlin dolled up for DSA's (not Neville's) 40 year anniversary celebration

When did you start paddling and how did you first get involved in dragon boat racing?

C: I started paddling with Marist Sisters College when I was 13 after my friend convinced me, and I enjoyed it. One of the main reasons that I joined was that meant I didn't have to do the set sports at school (i.e. hockey and soccer)!

N: Caitlin started paddling at Marist Sisters College. They used to train at Bank Street and a lot of the parents would hang around until they had finished, so after a while we decided we may as well give it a try. This led to the formation of Marist Dragons in 2014 as a community club. I was never much of a water sports person, but I started to really enjoy paddling as well as the camaraderie of being in a team sport. It also fired up my competitive instincts and I joined DSA in 2018 because I wanted to race in a competitive team and I wanted to make the NSW state team. Caitlin, as a teenager, what did you think of your dad joining a parent’s dragon boat racing crew – were you mortified or did you love it? C: I was never mortified about Dad joining – luckily, he's not one of those (too) embarrassing parents. I enjoyed the convenience of it as I never had to worry about how I was getting to training/regattas and Dad – still to this day – gets everything ready for regattas which allows me to wake up just a little bit later. N: I’m glad to hear that she’s not too embarrassed by me. I guess it wasn’t too strange for her because there were other parents doing it as well. Truthfully, if she had ever told me that she didn’t like having me around, I probably would have stopped paddling.

Image: Caitlin in her Marist Sisters College paddling days

Caitlin officially joined DSA in 2022 - what do you both enjoy most about being part of the same club and paddling together?

C: I enjoyed that I knew someone at the club, and through Dad, I knew a few other people too. It was a big factor for me joining DSA rather than Sloths where my friends are. I enjoy that sometimes Dad and I get to paddle in the same boat, which we weren't able to at the previous club. I also enjoy having someone to mooch water off during training when I run out!

N: I think it’s great to be able to do a sport with my children – it was either this or netball and I have to admit I don’t think I look very good in a netball skirt. The bonus is that dragon boating is great exercise and a lot of fun (except for George’s brutal training sessions). Also, it’s great that we have a lot more younger paddlers in the club nowadays, so Caitlin doesn’t have to hang around with the oldies all the time.

Image: Paddling at the Bei Loon 8km challenge

Do you have any advice for parents who wish to encourage their kids to get involved in the sport? C: Tell your kids this is a sport where they can have optional contact with their parents - there's so many other people around you can choose how much you want to interact with your parents. N: Just do it – it’s a great way of bonding and helps to keep the communication channels open (especially when your kids are going through the monosyllabic teenage years). Dragon boating is also a very social sport and you get to meet lots of other people, especially at state and national competitions. Also, the pathway to State and National representative teams is very clear and definitely within reach if you’re prepared to train hard.

What is your favourite memory or experience with the club?

C: Honestly, I enjoy all the OC6 sessions I do, especially the ones where Dad is the steerer.

N: The 2022 Do Something Awesome social team that took part in the Lunar New Year regatta is a highlight. Caitlin was part of that team as well as my son, Matthew, and 2 of my nephews (Ken’s sons), so that was truly a family affair. The main competitive highlight was at the 2019 Australian Championships - Senior B Open small boat 500m final. That was as close to the perfect race as I’ve ever experienced, and even to this day we still talk about it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at DSA – friendly members, great spirit, competitive teams, lots of paddling options (dragon boat, OC1, OC6), so I only have positive memories and experiences.

Image: (L-R) A family affair with Neville's son Matthew, nephews Kyle & Ross, and Caitlin, paddling with DSA's Do Something Awesome crew at the 2022 Lunar New Year Dragon Boat Regatta

Image: DSA family on the drive back from the 2023 AusChamps

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