Paddlers from Paradise use people power

Paddlers from Paradise
The AMI Paddlers from Paradise use people power to propel their sleek Dragon Boat and are looking for more crew mates who want to make a splash, get fit and have a great time along the way. - Submitted

HOLMES BEACH – The AMI Paddlers from Paradise, a local Dragon Boat team, are ready for another season.

Their boat resembles a serpent with a vicious dragon’s head, and their ranks range from 28 during the off-season to 50 or more when the snowbirds return.

“Our mission is to promote fitness, fun and camaraderie,” said Melinda Bradway, group founder and coach. “We train 10 months out of the year, skipping two months when it gets too hot.”

Their dragon boat season begins in October.

“We have a chant,” Bradway said, “One, two, three, four; leave your problems on the shore.”

According to the group’s website, Bradway was a member of the Dragonheart Vermont team that won the 2017 USA National Dragon Boat Championship for the women’s 60 and older division held on Lake Mercer, N. J. That team is scheduled to compete in the international Dragon Boat Championships in Hungary in July.

Paddlers from Paradise
The Paddlers from Paradise invite those interested in Dragon Boats to take a ride and learn more. They say rowing helps them keep fit and takes their minds off their problems. – Submitted

Last July, the AMI Paddlers from Paradise won the gold medal and first place trophy at the Suncoast Dragon Boat Festival at Benderson Park in Sarasota. They will be competing this year in Tampa, Apollo Beach, Sarasota, Mount Dora and Clermont.

While the competition keeps them physically fit, they feel paddling keeps them mentally fit.

“We have a chant,” Bradway said, “One, two, three, four; leave your problems on the shore.”

Bradway also wants to let others enjoy time in a dragon boat, and said they look forward to forming a breast cancer survivors team.

“We invite people to go for a ride to look at the sea life or catch a sunset,” she said. “I keep the cost down and we charge $10 per person for an excursion.”

If you see a dragon boat in the waters around Anna Maria Island, you might want to wave, or you might want to contact them and get in on the fun.

For more information, call Bradway at 941-462-2626.