UTM’s MBiotech students hit the water with dragon boat teams

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 11:13am
Sarah Jane Silva
MBiotech 2017UTM MBiotech students come out on top at the Mississauga Canoe Club’s 14th Annual Dragon Boat Festival. Photo by Helen Filipe.

Mississauga – The Credit River was teeming with boats over the weekend as rival paddlers took part in the 14th Annual Dragon Boat Festival. Hosted by the Mississauga Canoe Club, this year’s festival welcomed two UTM teams: Stroke of Genius and Liquid Sunshine.

“We were all excited to participate in the dragon boat races as it's a fun and new experience (and good exercise), and it gives us an opportunity to spend time with our classmates outside of class,” said Marta Haniszewski, a first-year MBiotech student.

“We just met at the end of May when our program started, and we were all excited to embark on this teamwork-based adventure together and get to know each other a bit better in the process.”

Made up of mostly first-year students from the Master of Biotechnology program, the cadence of drumbeats set the winning pace for both teams who power paddled their way to the top: Stroke of Genius won the Education Cup Trophy and came in first with a time of 59 seconds in the 200-metre race, while Liquid Sunshine came in second with a time of 1.01 minutes.

“Believe it or not, we've only had two one-hour long practices as team Stroke of Genius,” said Haniszewski. “But we made up for it with our passion, determination and enthusiasm!”

Carlo Borghesi, another first-year MBiotech student, wanted to get involved in boat racing so that he could experience something fun and unique with his new friends and classmates.

“So far, I have not been disappointed,” he said before the race. “Through adversity we have transformed into seasoned dragon boaters who can compete with even the most experienced teams. Bring your umbrellas, because Liquid Sunshine is coming!”

However, Borghesi admits to underestimating how challenging the experience would be, from the nuances of dragon boating technique, to the physical demands of the sport, to the high-level coordination required among teammates.

It was under the guidance of Rachel and Kyle Jeffrey, award winning head coach at the Mississauga Canoe Club, that both teams learned proper paddling techniques and how to paddle in sync. They also learned how to maximize the power of their strokes by using the strength of the entire body with proper rotations and movements.

“We practiced the race from start to finish and the appropriate commands, learning how to get the boat moving, and paddling confidently and having a strong and powerful sprint at the end,” said Haniszewski.

 “It was an incredible day,” said Helen Filipe, placement and employer relations coordinator for MBiotech, and team captain for both teams. Filipe and her family had set up tents on the grass of Riverside Public School across from the Club so students could cool off and rest up in between heats.

The Mississauga Dragon Boat Festival (MDBF) partners with Sick Kids Foundation and Cardiac Kids, a volunteer group that raises funds for children suffering from congenital heart disease. More than $16,000 was raised at the Festival, and will be used to support children and staff of the cardiology ward at The Hospital for Sick Children.

“MDBF is one of our biggest and most successful fundraisers and we rely heavily on our Board of Directors, coaches, alumni and parent volunteers to make the actual day the success it always is,” said Valerie Pirner, director of fundraising, MDBF coordinator.