Row your way to fitness with CPT Shawn Wong

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27 Mar 2020 | PEOPLE

Row your way to fitness with CPT Shawn Wong

He’s an avid lover of dragon boating and working out. Meet CPT Shawn Wong, who helps manage and coach the SAFSA dragon boat team.

// Story by Chia Chong Jin

// Photos by Chai Sian Liang

// Videographer by Alvin Fung

CPT Wong has been in the dragon boating scene for over 10 years.

For those who are unfamiliar with dragon boat, the sport isn't only about being the fittest in the competition. It also requires resilience, communication and, most importantly, teamwork – all aspects which appeal to Captain (CPT) Wong.

An Air Warfare Officer (Air Defence Weapons) in 165 Squadron, he is also the Assistant Team Manager and Assistant Coach of the SAFSA dragon boat team.

The crew of a standard dragon boat consists of 22 team members – 20 paddlers, one drummer and one helmsman.

The role of the drummer is to lead the paddlers throughout the race using rhythmic drum beats to indicate the frequency and synchronisation of all their strokes.

The direction of the boat is controlled by the helmsman, who is positioned at the back of the dragon boat and uses a long (typically 9-feet) straight oar, called a steering oar.

Dragon boats vary in length and crew size – from small boats with only 10 paddlers to traditional dragon boats with up to 50 paddlers.

Being in the SAFSA Dragon Boat team has allowed CPT Wong (second row, fourth from left) to meet new people and forge lasting friendships.

Besides improving his fitness as part of the sport, the 30-year-old added: "I also learnt a lot about teamwork – we meet different servicemen from different vocations, and we help each other along in our daily work."

CPT Wong (far right) with some of his dragon boat teammates who participated in the 2019 SEA Games held in the Philippines.

Watch the video below where he talks about how he got into the sport, and shares tips on picking up dragon boat:

In case you can't watch the video, here are the tips that CPT Wong mentioned:

1. Don't be afraid to take up dragon boat as a sport. The dragon boat community is a fun and friendly one, and it's a good way to meet people and make new friends.

2. Work on toning different areas of your body. Many people have the misconception that dragon boating only requires upper-body strength but, in fact, the sport uses your entire body.

Some exercises you can do are squats and deadlifts to build your base strength. Go for runs to build up your cardiovascular fitness, so that you can last longer during competitions. Pull-ups and bench press exercises are also essential in building up strength for your upper-body muscles.

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