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February 28, 2024

Dragon Boat Club kicks off the season with Baltimore Inner Harbor race

By NICK DAUM | September 17, 2023

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COURTESY OF NICK DAUM

The Johns Hopkins Dragon Boat Club hope to replicate their winning performance at their next race.

The Johns Hopkins Dragon Boat Club is a competitive club for the crew-like, 22-person sport of dragon boating. The club won its first division race at the Catholic Charities Dragon Boat Festival in Inner Harbor on Sept. 9, coming fourth out of sixteen overall.

Club President Sandy Wong voiced her excitement about the club’s growth in the past three years in an interview with The News-Letter.

“During COVID, it’d be five of us working out on Zoom, so it wasn’t that engaging,” she said. “[Last year], it was maybe 10 or 12 people actively. Now, I think we have 40 or 50 people signed up. That shows how much the club has grown in just the past year.”

Wong highlighted that many people have never heard about the sport or that it’s offered on campus, which illustrates the need to reach out to the student body. She attributed the growth of the club to several initiatives taken by the executive board, including the decision to co-host a festival last year alongside other Hopkins clubs. 

“We all got together and held this festival where students could meet us. I feel like we're missing out because you don't know about us,” she said.

Several executive board members shared their excitement that the upcoming school year will boast the greatest number of races in the club’s history. In an interview with The News-Letter, Coach Liwen Xia elaborated on the club’s more active schedule for the upcoming year.

“We are definitely going to a lot more races in the fall compared to last year. This is actually our second race at Catholic Charities Dragon Boat Races in Inner Harbor. We're doing four weeks of consecutive races,” he said. 

Xia was specifically excited about the club’s planned trip to Puerto Rico next January.

According to equipment manager Andy Tang, the club’s general body is split into two categories. Active members practice every weekend and form the core race group, while non-active members are either new to the organization or those who are looking to experience a the dragon boat on a casual level.

In light of vacancies in leadership positions for next year, Xia shared his goal of building up the current membership.

“Our goal for the future is to have a strong member base, especially since a lot of the Executive Board are graduating. So we need people to fill up the spaces. Luckily there has been a lot of interest,” he said. “We've identified ourselves as a fun, casual club but also a club that works very hard.”

Freshman Adam Miller joined the club this fall, and this weekend’s event was his first competition.

“I literally joined two weeks ago because I found out they had a dragon boat team here. I have been dragon boating for years,” he said. “I wasn't aware that Hopkins had a team until I found out from some friends that they did.”

Xia also praised the social aspect of the club, and its ability to bring the members together. Club member Emma Ouyang echoed this sentiment in an interview with The News-Letter, recounting her positive experience with the community.

“I really like the act of paddling because it helps the team bond. You’re all working hard together and at the end of the day you get to celebrate it,” she said. “I recommend it more than anything to anybody. It is such a fun experience.”


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