Dragon boaters create record ripple effect

It’s not often you get to shatter a world record. If you can do it with some of your best friends beside you, all the better.

Burnaby’s Paige Misfeldt did just that two months ago at the 14th annual IDBF Dragon Boat world championships in Pattaya-Rayong, Thailand.

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As part of a tremendously successful run at the competition, where Misfeldt paddled her part in a three-gold, two-bronze performance, Canada established a new world record in the 200-metre premier women’s grand final. By posting the first-ever sub-46-second time (45.95 seconds), the Canadians got more than bragging rights.

It was just part of a tremendous week of racing, where legs and arms were worked to the max.

“Every international competition is slightly different because you have new teammates, new coaches, new competition, and it challenges you to always be adaptable,” Misfeldt told the NOW via email. “The last most memorable achievement was winning the nations cup in 2015, but also because it was my first time being on Team Canada.”

She’s been hitting the catch for Canada since 2015. Now, as one of the veterans on the crew, Misfeldt takes each race as a link in a chain, knowing the whole process of what it takes to get a strong team together, rowing as one.

“There a lot of work and planning that happens before the actual competition to make sure that we feel confident and ready when we get into the boat on race day,” she said. “Since our team comprises of athletes (from) all across Canada, we (had) a one-week training camp in Tremblant, Quebec, two weeks before the competition in Thailand.

“This camp is an intense five days where we train three times, two hours per day. The goal of the camp is to learn to gel as a team and flush out any pre-race jitters, so we can go into race day feeling calm and ready. It’s also a great opportunity to bond with our new teammates, as we don’t get to see each other that often throughout the year.”

Things got off on the right foot at the competition when they captured the women’s 2000m event, edging the host country by nearly 12 seconds with a time of 8:49.59 minutes.

The Canadian women then found themselves in a heated four-way showdown, placing third overall in the 1000m final. Their time of 4:09.232 was just a little more than a tenth of a second back of first-place Thailand. Misfeldt was also part of a mixed team that finished third in the 500m race.

In the 200m, the world record was the icing as Canada bested China, which finished second with a time of 46.12 seconds.

Among her teammates was another Burnaby native, Colleen Leung.

Misfeldt said, with that record in the books, the team laid it all on the line in the last event, the premier women’s 500m race. By less than a second, the Canadian women defeated the U.S. for the gold with a time of 2:00.693.

“It was the last race of the competition, and we set this crazy goal for ourselves to try to beat another world record,” recalls Misfeldt. “The whole race had so much emotion and you could feel everyone giving it their all to try and beat the clock. We came first in the race, and, although it wasn’t a world record, I wouldn’t have ended the competition any other way.”

A CPA outside of the boat, the Simon Fraser University alumna got into the sport for just an interesting experience. She soon found herself wanting to test her skills as part of a dedicated team.

“I instantly loved the sport and decided to challenge myself to see how far I could make it. The process of trying out involved a lot of discipline, and I had strong mentors when I first started, which really helped guide me through the everyday land and water training,” she recalled.

Now, it’s a big part of her life – and while the bounty she’s achieved while representing her country is awesome, it’s hard to top the adrenaline and camaraderie that come from training and competing together on the water.

“In order to have a good race everyone on the boat needs to work together and blend technique. For a great race, everyone just goes,” said Misfeldt. “You have so much trust in each other that blend is second nature and the focus shifts to what that race needs in that moment in time and everyone takes individual responsibility for making that happen.”

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