Tempe, Arizona: The First Race Since The Pandemic
It has been 2 full years since UC San Diego's Dragon Boat team has raced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 17th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival (2022) at Tempe Town Lake Marina was our first race of the season since the College Cup (2021) was canceled. This festival is a 2-day event set on the weekend of March 26th and 27th in which collegiate teams, mixed teams, open teams, and women’s teams compete in 250, 500, and/or 1000 meter races in their respective divisions. The seeding rounds for all race categories were held on Saturday while the finals and knockout sprint races were held on Sunday. Since the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival back in March 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, this festival was a new experience for both new recruits and many veterans on the team.
UCSD entered multiple boats for the Mixed (UCSD Monke and UCSD Gatekeep), Collegiate (same as mixed), Opens (UCSD Gaslight), Women's (UCSD Girlbosses), and knockout (UCSD Zoom Zoom) races. After many months on the water and in the gym, our hard work finally paid off. Both UCSD Monke and UCSD Gatekeep placed in the Mixed and Collegiate Finals in their respective division, which is such an amazing accomplishment for our team. UCSD Monke placed 2nd in the Mixed Division B Finals with a time of 2:10.99, which was less than a second away from taking gold. UCSD Monke placed 3rd in the Collegiate Division A Finals with a time of 2:07.40, which was less than half a second away from taking 2nd. UCSD Gatekeep placed 2nd for both the Mixed Division D Finals and Collegiate Division B Finals with the times 2:16.15 and 2:13.70, which were also less than a second away from being 1st. Although UCSD Gaslight and Girlbosses did not advance to the finals for Opens and Women's, and UCSD Zoom Zoom was eliminated from the knockout race after the second heat, we are still proud of our accomplishments and how far we've come as a team.
Overall, we had so much fun competing against other strong teams and the blazing hot sun. Not only did we gain valuable race experience, but we also bonded over the entire Arizona trip. We have come so far, but we still have much to improve on. We will continue to challenge ourselves to become stronger in order to cut down that fraction of a second we need to finally be able to take the gold home.