Ice dragon boat competitor and grandmother of four reflects on the hobby she found late in life

Linda Nimshon found her passion for paddling nine years ago, at 49

When Linda Nimshon received an email about the first Tim Hortons IDBF World Crew ICE Dragon Boat Festival that was taking place this year in Ottawa, she knew she really wanted to compete in it.

The dragon boater and outrigger paddler at the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club had trouble finding a single ice dragon boater on the island or even in all of B.C. to team up with, let alone corralling the ten women it would take to row the boats on ice.

She decided to sign up as an individual.

“I thought, ‘Jeez, that’d be different to do,’ and ‘I’ve never done that,’ so I decided to give it a try,” Nimshon said.

ALSO READ: Vancouver Island women golden at national dragon boat championships

After a while, she received an email from organizers that teams were full and there were no spares needed, but they had received interest from enough women and decided to put them together.

Nimshon was placed in a crew that assembled five other women from Newfoundland.

“Coast to coast,” the Victoria native said.

Another crew member was from the Czech Republic and one had flown in from London, England.

“We’d never met each other.”

The crew continued to “touch base” over the phone before the event, Nimshon said. When they got together they “just clicked.”

“We absolutely got along,” she added. They had around 20 minutes to practice during the afternoon before beginning the chilling “Shiver & Giver” event at nightfall.

The women on the team had all raised money to be a part of their first ice dragon boat charity race.

“It’s amazing that we were able to pick it up quickly and learned how to use the sticks because they’re unusual,” she said.

Glacial Globetrotters had 20 minutes to practice before their first race (Submitted

The next day, the team started by paddling two 500-meter races in the morning and two more in the afternoon, placing them into the semi finals and in the Final “B” race, before being knocked out. Their best time in the 500 meters was 1:06.

Nine years ago, Nimshon, 58, who was active when she was younger, realized she missed doing sports being a busy mom.

“I met a woman who said, ‘You know, you should try dragon boating,” she recalls. At first, she said she was afraid and thought, “‘Well, I don’t know how to do that.’” Then she realized it may help her relieve some stress.

“Then I started dragon boating. I moved up the ladder from recreational to more advanced groups and went to nationals with Fairway Gorge in Welland, Ont.,” she said.

The following year, she was unable to continue paddling competitively due to “a very stressful situation” in her personal life.

Nimshon developed PTSD and said she used “paddling as therapy.”

She said paddling has helped to ease her mind.

“I can take it out on the water and the water’s very forgiving,” she said with a laugh. “You can put all your sadness and your frustrations into the water, and the only way it fights back is tossing you into the water.”

ALSO READ: Paddle power: Gorging Dragons victorious at Dragon Boat Festival

Padding and out-rigging has given Nimshon a reason to visit Nanaimo, Welland, Vancouver and Hawaii. For three years, she participated in the BC 55+ games.

Nimshon’s family, whose support she said she always counts on, includes two children and four grandchildren.

Looking back, Nimshon is pleased with the hobby she found late in life and nevertheless turned into a passion.

“I’m grateful to have been on each and every boat, with each and every paddler and with each and every club because that has allowed me to achieve a great deal of friendships, sportsmanship and memories,” she said.

Glacial Globetrotters, Nimshon’s circumstantial team from Ottawa, are thinking of competing together again next year.

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com


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