My Story – Kate

I heard about dragon boating when I mentioned to someone that I fancied getting back on the water after many years away. I had kayaked before when I was younger.She suggested dragon boat racing and there was a club around the corner near Trent Bridge, which sounded great, so I looked them up on Facebook and sent a message about coming along.
The minute I sent that I became extremely anxious – what was I thinking? I have an anxiety disorder and I’m short/overweight/not very fit/previous back injury, I mean surely I would hold them back, quite literally? I’d never fit in!

I got a quick reply that there was a race on and to come down to meet people, then I could come along for a Sunday session. Straight away the anxiety told me I wasn’t going to fit in, this wouldn’t work and I’d look daft.

But I pushed past that and went along anyway. Wow, it looked amazing! Everyone was so friendly and I saw all shapes, sizes and levels of ability at that race day. Maybe I could do this?So I went along on the Sunday and once I was shown what to do, got in the boat and, I’ll be honest, I found it a bit hard going. I had to keep stopping because I was tired and my arms ached. I decided I couldn’t possibly do this (I’m an expert at talking myself out of things) and I would politely excuse myself when we got back.

I didn’t expect the words of encouragement from everyone, really wanting me to come back and keep at it, so I came back and tried again and again. I still found it hard with my fitness and on many occasions started talking myself out of it again but the team were all there to provide that support.
So I went to two other race days. I didn’t compete myself; I took some photos and cheered the team on from the side.
But every time there was a team huddle to talk about the before and after, I was invited to take part. They didn’t know how much that meant to me, to be included like that, and being so anxious (I am very talkative and outgoing so people can’t see how much I really mask it). I thought I might sit on the sidelines as I wasn’t racing, but that wasn’t the case at all and I’ve never felt more included anywhere. The socials are great fun too!

This motivated me to get fitter so I could compete. I was now doing things I hadn’t even dared consider before, like the Macmillan swim challenge. I completed 563 lengths of the pool, so I finally got my fire back!

After getting advice on my paddling posture during a session in the club house when the river wasn’t behaving enough to go out in the boat, I managed to later paddle way better with a lot less stopping and it felt amazing to make that much progress; I felt really proud of myself. I even got my own paddle for my birthday. Again, I got plenty of advice on what to get and got in the boat even on a cold day. Suddenly winter training is another great challenge!

My advice for anyone wondering about trying it, is absolutely go for it! I’m really glad I kept at it; it has made such a massive difference to me, physically and mentally.
You feel like part of a family, always included and encouraged. I have seen the most amazing sportsmanship and friendliness at the competitions and at each session of training. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!

Kate ☺

My first race

A group of new friends I didn’t know I had yet.

The day before – I have to get up at what time?

My very first real race with Notts Anaconda – a club I joined just two months ago. I’m feeling nervous and not altogether ready but definitely excited.A simple line in the race information pack shocks everything out of me. I need to get up at 5:30am on a Sunday!! My bag is already packed; it’s been packed for a while. I have repacked it twice just to calm the butterflies in my stomach and I’m re-reading the race info every five minutes.

Race day

It’s race day, it’s race day. The excitement sweeps away the earliness of the hour and I’m ready for the long journey to London way before my ride arrives. I check my kit one last time and hop into the car. I’m sharing with three other paddlers for the journey and we pass the time very quickly, talking about anything and everything except racing. I bring it up and suddenly realise that I’m not the only one who is nervous. The car is filled with nervous energy but everyone else seems more excited than worried. I’m not sure what the plan is as we arrive at camp. I put my name down to come and help everyone with the race. I’m looking forward to seeing my team in action.
There is lots to do, tents to put up, breakfast to be sorted, and toilets to be found… hey it was a long car journey! The first race comes up very quickly and I go to check the board. MY NAME IS ON IT! I’m racing in the first 200m race. I don’t have time to think about it before we are suddenly paddling to the start line. I’m checking everything – how’s my timing? Is my technique OK? I also realise I’m grinning from ear to ear.

“Attention… Go!”

A minute stretches into an eternity and yet it’s over in the blink of an eye. I try to remember everything from training and try to keep up. My arms are burning, and I can hear my heart beating like crazy as the helm calls ‘down’. Where did we come? Did we win? Right now I have no idea. I don’t really care about that at the moment though as I look around at my teammates in the boat. Everyone pats everyone they can reach on the back and the paddler to the left of me tells me “well done”. Right now, I only want to know one thing – when can I do that again?

Stockton race report 2019

Notts Anaconda has secured a clean sweep of three first place positions in the sport’s second national league event of the year – the first time in the club’s 25-year history that it has taken first place in all the categories in a national league event.

The racing took place in Stockton on Sunday 5 May and Notts Anaconda competed as an ‘open’ crew – which allows any combination of men and women with a maximum of 20 paddlers in the boat – and also in the ‘ladies’ category, which requires all the paddlers plus the drummer and the helm (who steers the boat) to be female and allows a maximum of 14 paddlers in the boat.

Ali Marsland has raced with Notts Anaconda for 17 years and says yesterday was the best result she’s seen: “A clean sweep of three first place positions is just amazing – the best result it is possible to get. In dragon boat racing there are so many things that can affect a result – fitness and technique are important of course, but external factors such as the wind can have an impact, and when the racing is tight, we are often reminded that the most important muscle is the one between our ears!“We’ve all worked really hard in training and yesterday it all came together. We stayed focused, supported each other and really worked together ‘as one’ both in the boat and on land. This is an absolutely fantastic result for us, and it was a day we’ll all remember for a long time to come.”

Crews travelled from all over the country to take part in the British Dragon Boat Association’s race event, all looking for points that would go towards their final placing in the league.In the 200m Open, Notts Anaconda raced a heat, semi-final and final – and saw off strong competition from 16 other crews to take first place in every race and the fastest time of the day.

The ladies competition was raced over 200m and consisted of a heat and a final – with Notts Anaconda again taking first place in both races.And in the 500m Open competition, the club again raced a heat, semi-final and final and won each of their races. The club set the fastest time of the day in the heat – and then smashed their own record to set a new fastest time in the major final.

Notts Anaconda are based at Trent Bridge and usually train twice a week. At the moment the crew is also running extra training sessions as they gear up to compete in the European Club Crew Championships in Seville, Spain, at the end of July. They will also be competing over the next few months in national league events in Milton Keynes, London, Liverpool and Nottingham.
Notts Anaconda always welcomes new members, with or without any amount of sporting experience. For more information email

Bristol race report 2018

On to sunny Bristol for race 2 of the BDA league, this picturesque venue once again buzzed with activity and the echoing sound of dragon boat drums.

The journey time had an effect and Notts Anaconda fielded quite a small crew having to borrow 3 ladies from Cambridge Royals to make up numbers in the ladies boat, thanks ladies!

Our first race of the day was the open heat which had us facing off against a combined crew from Soaring Dragons and Typhoon, and St Neots in our own pool boat. We proved quickest off the start and although the other teams pulled back some distance towards the end we finished with a decent 2 second lead, taking us straight through to the semi finals.

Notts Anaconda 01:00.13
Soaring / Typhoon 01:02.25
St Neots 01:02.69

Next up was the ladies heat, this proved to be a hard fight with wash from the juniors boat giving everyone some rough water.
The ladies finished second in their heat behind Exe-Calibre ladies but unfortunately didn’t qualify for the semi finals. Next time ladies!

Exe-Calibre Ladies 1:11.55
Notts Ladies 1:12.14
St Neots Ladies: 1:13.05

Once again we faced a familiar lineup in the semi finals (hi guys, its us again) we gritted our teeth and got ready to chase that finish line down.
Wraysbury got off to a flying start and pulled a boat length ahead almost immediately but Notts fought hard to chase them down, trading second place with Amathus along the full length of the course! We waited for the results with baited breath for what seemed like an eternity before discovering we had taken second place by less than two tenths of a second!

Wraysbury 00:56.10
Notts Anaconda 00:59.51
Amathus 01:00.10

Now to the major cup final, and more shock as a super speedy Typhoon beat the firm favourites Wraysbury to take first place, with Notts taking home the third place trophy.

Typhoon 00:53.27
Wraysbury 00:54.50
Notts Anaconda 00:59.80

The final race of the day saw some very weary and wet crews setting off on the 3.5km pursuit race. Notts fought hard to put in a great time but some controversy saw us impeded in the first turn, losing precious seconds after having to slow down.
We took 8th Place with a time of 14:20.63.

Overall it was a great day, the races were (mostly) on time and the weather provided us with some handy sunshine to dry off those wet clothes.

Running around Tallinn

You just can’t keep us away from exercise! Throw in a trip to the fabulous capital of Estonia and off we go.

Twelve Anacondas set off to Tallinn to take part in their biggest running event, the SEB Tallinna Half Marathon, and one of us set out to complete the 10km race.

Of course it wouldn’t be an Anaconda road trip without some time to explore and see the sights… and bars, so we spent five nights exploring Tallinn and even had time to hop on a ferry over to Helsinki to tick another country off the list.

The event itself went well with everyone finishing their races and happy with their times and two half marathon runners even breaking the two-hour mark. We couldn’t have done it without the locals coming out to cheer us on, lining the course to encourage us in random and hilarious ways, from banging pots and pans together to playing a bugle!

We can definitely recommend Tallinn – so much to see and do, with a great night life and friendly people.

City of Nottingham triathlon

Three brave Anacondas took on the City of Nottingham Sprint Triathlon today, pitting their fitness and determination against a 300m swim, 12km cycle ride and 3km run.

The weather was pretty kind and proved to be a perfect day to be outside. Well done guys!

The final times:

Freddie: 00:53:00.840

Nick: 01:00:01.443

Rob: 01:03:42.627

Nottingham race report 2017

And so to our home race.

The sun was shining and the weather smiled on us today, setting the scene for an exciting day of racing. The Anacondas arrived feeling fresher than usual for a race day, ready to take on the visitors on our home turf. 
We also did our best to make our visitors feel as welcome as possible and our club bakers had excelled themselves with the variety and amount of cakes, cookies and snacks on offer on our cake stall. Tuck in everyone, make your boats as heavy as you can mwhahahahah… ahem.

Evil plans aside, it was a day of close and exciting racing for everyone. The Anacondas were out in force and this event saw the return of the Anaconda Toos ready to take on all challengers and eager to show the Anacondas how it’s done.
The ladies fought hard in the S12 to take third place overall, chasing Firestorm in first place and Amathus Ladies in second.

The Open S12 crew finished third in a very tight race but were bumped up into second place after Soaring Dragons were given a one-second time penalty for finishing out of their lane.

In the S20s the Anaconda Toos took 10th place as they absolutely stormed ahead of the competition in the bowl minor final, finishing over four seconds ahead of the second placed crew.

The Anacondas put on a truly spectacular performance, racing against Wraysbury, Typhoon, and Amathus. Chasing Wraysbury to the finish line we ran out of race before we were able to catch up, taking fourth place.

The 2000m races proved to be real crowd pleasers, with both Anaconda crews showing our ‘sexy turns’ according to one YouTube commentator! There was also some excitement with Amathus losing their steering arm after the last turn of the cup race, costing them some time but not the race thanks to the skills of their helm, who quickly grabbed a paddle from one of the crew and steered the boat across the line to take first place.

The Anaconda Toos finished fifth in the plate final and the Anacondas took fourth place in the cup final.


It’s not just about dragon boat racing you know!

This morning a group of Anacondas met up at Holme Pierrepont to take part in the Water Wipeout challenge, a 10km obstacle course race with over 70 obstacles including high walls, waterslides, cargo nets, and of course lots and lots of water.

They rose to the challenge and worked as a team to finish the course, muddy, tired, but still laughing.

The last obstacle washed off most of the mud!

Iron Man 70.3

70.3 – the number of miles you cover in a half ironman under your own steam. A 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run all in one day.

Two of our clearly nuttier members completed the Staffordshire Half Ironman today, a pretty unbelievable achievement made all the more impressive by soaring temperatures.
We are proud of you both!

Amazing achievement, wouldn’t you agree.


Voga.. what? I hear you ask.

The Vogalonga is a regatta that takes place in Venice every year. It started in 1974 as a protest against large powered boats damaging the waterways and has since grown into a huge event with boats of all shapes and sizes taking part.

This year the Anacondas decided to take part in the 30km scenic paddle around the islands and lagoons, and so began a fairly epic undertaking.

Three crew members volunteered to drive the boats down to Venice from Nottingham by taking turns to drive, sleep and eat jelly snakes to keep their energy levels up, totalling a 2,205-mile round trip.

16 paddlers and a drummer caught flights and an impromptu plane vs car race was on! The plane won thanks to some traffic in Italy… but only just.
After a day of exploring the meandering streets of Venice, we got our race heads on and started carb loading with lots of pizza and pasta (beer is carbs too, right?) and were soon ready for the race day.
The race itself was an incredible spectacle. 2,000 boats and over 8,000 competitors gathered in the water around St Marks Square to wait for the cannon shot marking the start of the race.

We didn’t have to wait long and set off at a relaxed pace intending to take the next few hours to enjoy ourselves and see the sights. Unfortunately there was another dragon boat ahead of us… and well, we couldn’t have that so the race was on!
Pretty soon we lost count of the dragon boats we passed, always with a cheer and a friendly wave, and reached the half way point in just over an hour. A quick refuel with energy gels and jelly snakes and we set off again.
Before we knew it we had turned into the Grand Canal. All I can say is ‘WOW’; a wall of noise and cheers followed us all along this historic waterway. The crowds really get behind everyone and their cheers helped us find that last reserve of energy.
We crossed the finish line in an absolutely astonishing (to us at least) 2 hours and 35 minutes.