Lifestyle: Meet Bunbury Crewsaders coach Roslyn Webb

David CharlesworthSouth Western Times

Twelve metres long, bright pink and with its dragon’s head cutting through the water, Roslyn Webb and her team the Bunbury Crewsaders make quite a sight in their dragon boat on the Leschenault Inlet.

Roslyn first took up a paddle in 2005, in the early days of the club, following a friend’s encouragement at her 60th birthday.

The Crewsaders is one of many clubs nationally part of the breast cancer dragon boat association Dragons Abreast Australia.

Nine years before she joined the club, Roslyn had been diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer.

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“I’m thankful I’m here and have got a second breath at life,” Roslyn said.

The crew is formed of both members who were breast cancer survivors and supporters.

“Our crew ranges in age from the oldest, who is 73, to the youngest, Lily who, at 12 years old is our drummer and loves coming to training to support her nan,” she said.

Dragons Abreast started in Canada after research found the upper body movement of dragon boat paddling was beneficial to treating lymphedema in breast cancer survivors.

“I’ve been to conferences around Australia and the amount of ladies that actually stand up and say if it wasn’t for dragon boating I’d still have lymphedema.”

Roslyn said lymphedema can occur as a result of the partial or full removal of lymph nodes during a mastectomy, such as in her case, with fluid collecting in the arms or back.

The upper body movement of paddling encourages draining of the fluid.

Roslyn is now accredited as a dragon boat coach and sweep through the Australian Dragon Boating Federation, first taking up coaching last year.

Last month, Roslyn with the Crewsaders competed in the club’s first ever regatta at Champion Lakes in Perth, where they won the 200m dash.

“If you go to regattas nobody is expected to win everyone is a winner in their own lane,” she said.

“If you go to the Dragons Abreast Australia regattas or even if you go to the international one, nobody gets first, second or third medals, everybody gets a participatory medal at the end of it.”

Roslyn has attended five international Dragons Abreast regattas all over the world, paddling as part of a composite Australian team.

“A lot of people don’t have a team to go with so we make up composite teams,” she said.

Roslyn will be again attending the international regatta from July 2 to 9 this year in Florence, Italy, and is the manager of team Hope, with the other two Australian teams called Spirit and Inspiration.

“Most of my team members are from Ballarat, Illawarra, Wagga Wagga and the Crewsaders of Bunbury,” Roslyn said.

All the crew members taking part in the international regatta will be breast cancer survivors with 129 teams expected to take part and 22 people in each crew.

“They envision anywhere between five and six thousand for this regatta, that’s absolutely huge,” she said.

Roslyn said it was important for breast cancer survivors to take some time for themselves and be active.

“Instead of sitting at home thinking ‘this is it I don’t have a life anymore’, join us because we are mainly founded on fun, fitness and camaraderie,” she said.

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