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Chestmates Dragon Boat Team

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Chestmates is the only Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat team in the catchment serviced by the South Eastern Regional Cancer Centre. To be a member of Chestmates, a paddler must have had breast cancer.

Each paddler must consult with their physician to ensure it is safe to paddle, in particular if you have just completed your course of treatment. 

Because Dragon Boating is a physical sport, we recommend a good solid level of fitness which can be enhanced by engaging in the free fitness programs offered at BCAK. 

Chestmates provides the coaching, and equipment you need to paddle. The team connection is amazing – we paddle to bring hope and awareness to others with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Our team paddles out of Collins Bay Marina, twice a week from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays from May to the end of September.  

Our member's ages have ranged from 20+ to 80+, and we still have original paddlers from 2003 paddling in our dragon boat in 2022!

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Chestmates Dryland Training Exercises

Available HERE

We welcomed "HOPE" to our team Aug. 2022


Meet The 2022 Team

Audrey Harvey

Christine Styles

Darlene Evans

Deena Rasky

Donna Hackett

Fizzabai Burton

Heather Jamieson

Helen Tolles

Huw Davies (steers person)

Iris Little

Jane Kitchen

Jo-Ann Kennedy

Kim Gruetzman

Lesley Thompson

Lilian Davies

Linda Jackson (co-captain)

Lori Cox           (co-captain)

Lynne Funnell

Maggie Daicar

Mary Peel

Mary-Lynne Ascough

Mary Weston

Nancy Lemont

Patty Lotton

Renata Bianchi

Sandra Tomlinson

Sarah Arrowsmith

Sarah Emery   (coach)

Sarah Young

Sheila Menard

Sheila York

Susan Cross

Suzanne Smith

Tammy MacDonald

Willi Clark

Willie Kyer

Our 2023 Schedule

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July 15, 2023 Arnprior, ON

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August 26 & 27 Welland, ON


Sept. 16 & 17  Stratford, ON

Peterborough Festival 2023 – June 10th

We all arrived the night before, and the majority of us gathered at Fleming College, and a gang went out for supper at Kelsey’s. We were initially going to be 23 strong in the boat, but circumstances had us drop to 20 strong in the boat, plus Huw as our steer and Sarah in the drum seat. We were introduced to our new mascot (yet to be named – suggestions welcomed).

The morning of June 10th the air was fresh, the skies were clear and Little Lake was calm and the dragons were awakened for the races of the day.

As a BCS (breast cancer survivor) team, we raced two races in the morning in order to qualify for the MacKenzie Cup Challenge and our times also placed us in the Open Women’s Division for the afternoon slate of races. There were 6 BCS teams in attendance: Survivors Abreast – Courage & Survivors Abreast – Spirit (from Peterborough), Pink Crusaders (from ), Barrie’s Ribbons of Hope, Prior Chestnuts (from Arnprior) and Chestmates Kingston. There were 4 other crews making up the Open Women’s Division for a total of 10 boats.

We knew going into the MacKenzie Cup qualifying heats that our competition was strong.  

Only 2 seconds separated the first 3 bcs crews.

There were two BCS qualifying heats to earn a spot in the MacKenzie Cup Breast Cancer Survivors final. We knew going into our Heat that the first two teams across the finish line from each Heat earned a spot in the MacKenzie Cup final race.  We won our Heat and were really pumped, because we had made our sought after goal from the evening before when we all stated “let’s make into the MacKenzie Cup final”.

Our time of 1:27.07 was fastest of all 6 BCS crews, but because we stayed on the water after our Heat we did not know our time with respect to the other BCS crews – all we knew was we made it into the final and we had to turn around head back to the start time and race again in the Final.

From my perspective in the drummer’s seat – I knew our Chestmates crew had it in them to paddle hard – our motto for each race was “5% more, just give 5% more power” and we were paddling for Christine and all the other members of Chestmates. We were “READY READY”!

At the start line were heard “All boats hold, attention please, ready ready, go”.  

Our new start of 12 strokes then POWER NOW had use in 3rd place, but then we just kept adding power, and more power as Huw called a POWER NOW series, and we lengthened and lengthened adding power and then we powered into a FINISH. And then it happened. Words cannot express the joy of our Chestmates crew when we crossed the finish line – we knew we had won because there we no crews ahead of us. The look of joy on Huw’s face said it all – because he knew we were first from his vantage point.

In the AFTERNOON CHALLENGE races the currents and wind had picked up so times were slower and staying steady at the start line was challenging, but Huw did a wonderful job of getting our crew to the start line and in good position. The Tigers section of the boat showed how much INFLUENCE their section of our boat can have on a race result – we won by .07 seconds because of the push all the way through the finish line (it was a photo finish).

What an amazing day, each paddler gave 5% more and then 5% more, and Huw’s steering sliced off milliseconds off our times.  We were determined to paddle hard and to see if we could make the OW Division FINALs but again only the top two finishers made it into the OW Finals. We finished 4th in our semi-final OW Division race. However, our race time was 6th overall out of 10 crews.

So proud to be a member of this awesome team!

Paddles Up!

Sarah, Coach

Chestmates 2004

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Stratford Rotary Dragon Boat Festival September 17-18, 2022
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Feeling honoured to have been with these courageous ladies at the Stratford Rotary 2022 Dragon Boat Festival this past weekend. We began the day paddling hard with our “get-er-done” push for all 3 races.

A huge part of our festivals is experiencing the sisterhood with our BCS dragon boat teams as we raft together for the Carnation Ceremony. Stratford is a beautiful venue for this ceremony. We pushed off from rafting and paddled around the island 2 times while thinking of those we have lost and others going through treatments taking time to toss our carnations into the water with them in our thoughts.

Love you all and Paddles Up!   Lori Cox, Co-Captain

Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival Vancouver  June 24-26, 2022

Our first and largest Festival was June 24-26, 2022  The Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver which has sistered with our Canadian Organization PAC (Paddlers Abreast Canada).


At this event we celebrated 25 years of Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boating in Canada where it all began.

We went with only 18 paddlers. We were able to "borrow" two paddlers for our first  races to fill the boat but were unable to in the finals.

We went with 

- 18 paddlers

- a coach

- a steersperson

- 2 supports - one was a past paddler 

All of which are members of BCAK

What an amazing festival and we had amazing results.

We beat our average for 500m in every race and also improved our times in each.

Our time of 2:20.268 in the final was our best time ever in not only 500m but also 400m.

This time was also better than everyone in A and C finals placing us 5th out of 19 teams.

What a great group of paddlers.

Congratulations to us all and be proud. 
Paddles Up 

Lynne Funnell, President BCAK & Paddler

We had so much fun in Vancouver. We went with solid bonds and pure excitement and have definitely returned with even stronger connections and love for each other. A truly amazing experience that none of us will ever forget and we are still riding high on continued excitement which shows in every stroke we make at our practices back here in Kingston.

It was amazing to watch all races and to see how much our new paddlers embraced the comraderie with not just our team members, but all those other Canadian team members that we had the pleasure to encounter through this journey. That is a huge part of our BCS Festivals, having the opportunity to bond with other sister team survivors.  The icing on the cake is of course crossing that finish line as your adrenaline is at its peak….being a Chestmate is such an amazing privilege.  Thank you BCAK.     Lori Cox, Co-Captain


In 2007 I joined and fell in love with dragon boating which was not something that I ever thought I would do as I wasn’t a big fan of water.

That was 14 years ago, and I am still loving paddling. I’m so proud to be a chestmate and part of an awesome and amazing group of women.

I was welcomed from day 1 and have made lifelong friendships. I had 4 brothers growing up, but I now have a boatful of sisters. The support and strength I’ve gotten is beyond amazing

Chestmates welcome all survivors and their families. I’d highly recommend it.

Lynne Funnell

I want to say to everyone, Sarah, Lori, Heather and BCAK board members, and all the other wonderful women I have met during the short time I have been a member of this group, a huge thank you for your warmth and love. I don't know most of your names but I hope my young seatmate Sue is on this list.  

 Breast cancer was the last thing I ever thought would happen to me and I was horrified when, at age 81,  I got my diagnosis in May 2021,  but having breast cancer and being able to join the Chestmates has introduced me to women I would probably never otherwise have met so as the saying goes,  "Every cloud has a silver lining,"  

I plan to stay fit this winter and look forward to paddling next summer and going to Vancouver with all of you in June. 

Maggie Daicar

Breast Cancer Dragon Boat History in Canada  -   Dr Donald McKenzie


In 1996, Donald McKenzie, a sports medicine physician and exercise physiologist, initiated and developed a physical training program for the benefit of 24 breast cancer survivors. When women living with the disease began to challenge the notion that they should lead physically-restricted lives after surgery, Dr. Mckenzie formed and coached the "Abreast in a Boat" Dragon Boat paddling team consisting entirely of women who have survived breast cancer. Thanks to his initiative, most provinces in Canada now have a breast cancer dragon boat team. His remarkable achievements, enhanced by his guidance and caring, have given breast cancer survivors across Canada a sense of confidence and pride, and a lifeline to a better existence.

Governor General announces 135 new appointments to the Order of Canada

December 29, 2021

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, announced 135 appointments to the Order of Canada. The new appointees include 2 Companions (C.C.), 39 Officers (O.C.), 1 honorary Member and 93 Members (C.M.).

The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Its Companions, Officers and Members take to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM ("They desire a better country").

Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. More than 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order. Those who bear the Order’s iconic snowflake insignia have changed our nation’s measure of success and, through the sum of their accomplishments, have helped us build a better Canada.

Donald Chisholm McKenzie, O.C., M.S.M.
Sidney, British Columbia

For his expertise in sports medicine and for his seminal research on the effectiveness of exercise as an intervention for breast cancer patients.

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