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Stepping into the unknown world of the NSW state team

Last month, 15 of our members represented NSW across different divisions at the Australian Dragon Boat Championships. One of those making their debut in the NSW team was Kazuhiro.

Kaz is known to most as a gentle, humble and unassuming guy, but on the water he's a force to be reckoned with. Picking up dragon boating just 18 months ago, he decided to try his hand at the state team trials. He shares his journey with us below.

My state team story began with one simple question from club captain Declan, “Are you interested in trialling for the NSW team as you are planning to travel to Perth with DSA for nationals?”. It inspired me to step up into the unknown world of the state team. My view of the state team was that the level was much higher then my current level of paddling experience. But seeing is believing! I decided to send my EOI to state team trial.   

Needless to say, confident paddlers who train hard regularly apply for the state team. But my starting point was far behind the state team standard; I had never even tried OC1 or completed a 2 min Concept 2 rower trial before. However, what I could say proudly was that I like dragon boat training and racing, so my commitment to DSA training is quite high, having attended almost 100% of the sessions this season. 

In order to prepare for selection, I firstly tried OC1. At that time, balancing on the craft was indeed difficult for me so I hulied 6 times in my first session! Perhaps, it was not OC1 paddling practice, rather recovery training. A good finding was that single craft experience is also fun! The craft is powered only through my own paddling and the direction is controlled by my feet. And most importantly, I could view the scenery around Parramatta river, possibly because I wasn't putting in a lot of effort to paddle hard.      


Concept 2 Rowing was another challenge. In DSA, sometimes 1-2 min assignments are given... but I never imagined 2 km rowing! However, since I couldn't escape pre-trial submission, I started practising the challenging 2km row. The first trial was 8:35... Hmm, my rowing technique probably needed some work, so I went on YouTube and after several trials, I submitted my fastest result of 7:59.           

On 7th Jan in Newcastle, it was time for the Senior B men selection trial. Newcastle is a 4 hour round trip drive, but it was worth it. The selection trials were like a training camp in a nice environment and facility. We were required to do a 350m OC1 time trial, 90-minute dragon boat session, 5 min rowing erg, and then PULL-UPS! Many paddlers encouraged each other, and it was good to see toughness of other paddlers. While I felt like I need more physical toughness, I gave it everything that I had.  

The NSW Senior B men's selection trials in Newcastle

A few weeks after the selection trials, I receive an email advising that I made the Senior B state team - I was very proud of myself. Getting used to completing the additional weekly training program in the first 4 weeks was tough, especially the jump from an 8 minute row (2km) to 40-50 minutes of rowing. I felt anxious as I wasn't sure I would be able to finish. The sweat dripping down was evidence of how hard I tried... but I made it! However, the most important thing was my progress every week; my last 2km rowing time was 7:37, nearly 1 minute improvement from the first trial 3 month ago. 

In addition to the rowing erg, I trained every Wednesday morning on the OC1 with some DSA members, Lou, Jerene, or Clara. At first I was so slow, but tips from Allan and Felix helped me improve my speed. With sunrise getting later and later, I was always rushed to complete the assignment before going work, so I could only take short rests between sets. Unlike before, I had no more time at all to see the view around Parramatta river!

The NSW Senior B State team

Finally, participating in the dragon boat training sessions with the Senior B state team was rather enjoyable, despite the session being physically tough. Because of all the powerful members in a boat, I can really feel the acceleration after the call of the sweep, 3-2-1 – it was amazing. I am so happy to be on the boat together with the state team.  

I want to show my appreciation to all the DSA members and the Senior B state team and coaches. Thanks to their encouragement and sense of team, I was able to complete the long 12 weeks state team training assignment, which led to my confidence; I can do it!

After months and months of intense training and hard work, Kaz competed with the NSW Senior B team at the Australian Dragon Boat Championships in Perth last month, helping them win gold in the Senior B Mixed 500m standard boat and Open 500m small boat, as well as silver in the Open 1000m small boat. Congratulations Kaz!

The NSW Senior B open small boat racing at AusChamps in Perth

The NSW Senior B crew getting some rest in between races at AusChamps in Perth

DSA's NSW Senior B representatives (L-R) Kaz, Allan, Sharon and George



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