Erin Inglis

Erin Inglis

Paddlers return to Swan Lake

Vernon Rowing and Dragon Boat Club has undergone some changes and is looking forward to an exciting season

Vernon Rowing and Dragon Boat Club has undergone some exciting changes this season.

The club’s equipment, programs and events have all been transferred from Go Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada (GO) to a newly formed local non-profit society.

GO began in 1996, with the original foundation formed through the generous support of Peter and Marilyn Copland in order to build the sports of rowing and paddling in Canada. The organization provided the funds to open and manage rowing and paddling centres nationwide, and operated many successful, large-scale rowing and paddling programs and events.

“The history of GO is one of generosity and passion for the sports of rowing and paddling,” said Steve Frisch, executive director of GO. “An alignment of resources combined with hard work, facilitated thousands of on-water experiences for people across Canada, particularly in British Columbia.

“GO has now entrusted this legacy to new organizations including the Vernon Rowing and Dragon Boat Club. While GO’s leadership in rowing and paddling is coming to an end, this new agency has assumed stewardship to ensure that GO’s 18 years of commitment will continue for many years to come.”

The local community has discovered that rowing and dragon boating on Swan Lake is the perfect fit for water lovers. Rich in bird life and serene, Swan Lake is a little jewel in Vernon.

“We have an incredibly broad range of programs and events that the club offers,” said Lisa George, program and event manager at VRDBC. “Our adult and youth rowing programs are now the largest in the Interior and include youth at-risk and one of the largest para-rowing programs in Canada.

“Our younger rowers are showing great promise and several are busy preparing for the B.C. Summer Games. We also offer a fantastic dragon boat program, including a breast cancer survivor, women’s and mixed team who are on the water four nights a week.”

George said the glassy water of Swan Lake creates a perfect medium for sculls to quietly glide and fly, the feeling of speed on the water becomes second nature and the repetition of the stroke a meditative flow. Paddlers practise in the afternoon to the beat of the dragon boat drum. The unity of 22 paddlers in a boat together make this the ultimate team sport and the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. Both rowing and paddling are suited to participants of all ages and abilities. No experience is required, all equipment is provided and all sessions are coached by experienced coaches.

Events that the club hosts draw rowers from across the province, including Lap the Lake on June 14 and the Prospera Dragon Boat Festival Aug. 16 at Kal Beach.

“As well as hosting great racing we are proud that we include coach mentorship at the event,” said George. “In partnership with Rowing BC we will include development sessions for coaches with two guest mentors at no cost. The festival will bring 600 paddlers together at Kal. The festival partners with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation and has proudly raised $25,000 to date for the purchase of vital breast cancer diagnostic equipment.”

VRDBC will host an open house Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the club, meet its membership and try rowing.

For more information, call George at 250-938-7769 or see