Being a gregarious creature, I like nothing better than to catch up with friends, sharing our goings on and support each other through our various trials and triumphs.

Despite this, nearly all my sporting loves have relied on my solo effort – swimming, squash, cycling, kayaking, boxing and so on. ?Working alone I know how to set goals, focus on the end result, take the necessary steps to get there and succeed.

So you can imagine my surprise when, almost two years ago, I found myself in love with a team sport for the first time since leaving school.

Dragon boating had cast its spell and every Sunday morning I found myself waking in the dark and braving the winter cold to meet other mad people at the boat ramp, eager to spend two and a half hours paddling.

I’ve been trying to work out what the attraction was … Why did I keep going back?

The first week my neck and shoulder muscles seized and by Monday afternoon I thought I’d never work again! ?The following week my arms were falling off with fatigue. ?Another week I thought I’d throw up with abdominal cramps. ?Then there was the week my lower back and sides left me crippled, not to mention the week my legs and butt finally decided to join the game!

Along with the muscular issues, I had an entirely separate adventure trying to find the right clothing. ?The blood has literally dripped down my arms with chafing so bad I wanted to howl in pain. ?Lots of dollars have been spent in search of the right combination of clothing – and let me tell you, I looked VERY “special” when I went paddling! ?The kind of special that your kids and even some of your friends would rather not be seen with.

No exercise for four years (due to a chronic venous ulcer on my ankle that refused to heal), a weight gain of around 30kg and a bandage that couldn’t get wet did not make it easy… ?Picture this – a totally unfit, overweight woman in her late 40’s wearing an odd assortment of clothing and to top it off, a specialised bag to go over her foot and up over the knee to cover the bandage!

Very attractive. ?Not!

Very funny. Yes!

So, what’s the attraction? It’s teamwork!

Dragon boating is a very sociable way to get fit fast. ?The club is very friendly and its members are very welcoming. ?I’ve had expert tuition from people who have represented the country in this sport. ?They’ve shown me such patience and kindness and were unstinting in their encouragement. ?They are so inspiring.

One of the attractions I think is that dragon boating relies on every person in the boat to work together. ?The eighteen paddlers have to work in unison, perfectly timed to not hit each other’s paddles or to mess up the rhythm. ?They have to lean forward and back in time with each other, taking care not to lean inwards or outwards lest they overbalance the boat.

The sweep (person at the back, standing and steering with a long oar) has to keep everyone working together, motivating everyone to keep going when they’re exhausted and keeping the boat heading straight ahead despite wind, currents and the odd power boat that crosses the bow.

Teamwork gets the job done. ?When we work together, we achieve big things.

Teamwork relies on every member – each person is just as important as the others. ?Every position in the boat has its job and the right person has to be in each seat. ?Everybody is working towards the same goal. ?Together the team can achieve so much more than each person on their own can.

We socialise, we have a laugh, we work hard and it’s fun. ?Along the way, we want to win some medals!

Do you like to work as a team or by yourself?