SARASOTA, FL – On Saturday, May 11, Sarasota’s Survivors In Sync (SIS) breast cancer survivor dragon boat team swept all five of its races to win the gold at GWN Dragon Boat’s Sarasota International Dragon Boat Festival at Nathan Benderson Park. This event was a U.S. Dragon Boat Federation Southeastern Regional Club Crew qualifier, entitling the winner to one of the seven available U.S. berths for the International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championship (IDBF-CCWC) in France in the summer of 2020.
There are four U.S. regional festivals, with winners earning automatic berth in France; the final three berths will be decided at the U.S. Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew Nationals in Colorado Springs in August 2019. SIS earned gold in the Southeast qualifier by winning each of its five races (two 200M, two 500M, and one 2,000M) on Saturday.
In July 2018, Survivors In Sync finished fourth out of 125 teams in the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission Dragon Boat Festival, which drew thousands to Florence, Italy. The team is excited to test its mettle during international competition once again next year.
“Five years ago, when we started this team, we never would have dreamed we would be where we are today,” said Angela Long, SIS founder, coach and co-captain. “We started out as breast cancer survivors with a pink boat and willingness to step out of our comfort zone and try something new. Because of that courage, we have proved that we are now world-class athletes!”
The Sarasota International Dragon Boat Festival hosted 37 teams in four racing divisions: Sport BCS (breast cancer survivor), Sport Mixed, Sport Women, and Community Mixed. The Survivors In Sync BCS team competed against Heart and Soul (Melbourne, Fla.) and Paddles and Pearls (Charleston, N.C.). The Survivors In Sync Community team also swept its division to win gold.
Survivors In Sync is a dragon boat wellness program for breast cancer survivors. Team members achieve better physical health through training and competing against other dragon boat teams, and better mental health through a strong support system of other survivors. Open to all breast cancer survivors, the team practices Monday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday mornings. SIS is offered at Nathan Benderson Park by the park’s administrator, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates.
On Saturday, June 8, at 9 a.m., Survivors In Sync will host a breast cancer survivor Dragon Boat Community Day at Nathan Benderson Park, where participants can try paddling and learn more about the dragon boat programs at the park. All breast cancer survivors are invited. Find out more at SurvivorsInSync.org.