Superior native to compete in world dragon boat championships
After four years of paddling with the Northland's local dragon boat team, Kasey Slocum is joining the country's best paddlers for the 2015 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships.
After four years of paddling with the Northland’s local dragon boat team, Kasey Slocum is joining the country’s best paddlers for the 2015 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships.
The 19-year-old will compete with the United States women’s under-24 team today through Sunday in Welland, Ontario.
Though this is the first time she will compete with Team USA, Slocum’s personal coach, Megan Kress, said the Superior native was a natural paddler from her very first practice.
“She just instantly picked it up with a very minimal amount of instruction,” Kress said. “This happens every once in a while. She had it immediately.”
While she’s a natural at dragon-boating - a sport that originated in China and requires a team of 21 people to paddle a large canoe decorated to look like a dragon - Slocum had to be nudged into trying out for Team USA.
After Kress planted the seed more than a year ago, Slocum decided to try out for the team. She filled out the forms, took the required fitness tests and sent video of her paddling to the team’s coaches. Then, she received the good news.
“I actually was just waking up for school and I noticed I had an email. I read it and was like, ‘Oh my god,’ ” Slocum said. “So I called family at 8:30 in the morning saying I made the team.”
The news brought Slocum’s friends and family to tears.
“I called my grandma...and she woke up my grandpa and told him and grandma started crying,” Slocum said. “They were pretty proud that I made it. They were happy for me.”
Once she made the team, Slocum began working with a personal trainer. Kress said dragon-boating doesn’t just take a good sense of rhythm and technique, it requires a high level of physical fitness.
To maintain that level, Slocum works out every day. She also attends all three of Blue Water Paddling’s weekly dragon boat practices. Kress said Slocum’s year-round dedication to the sport and her fitness are what set her apart.
“A lot of people can paddle a dragon boat and have a good time at it and go to the festival and do well for a few races,” Kress said. “But to paddle at a national level you have to have a really, really high level of fitness, and you have to spend time in it.”
Aside from keeping her fit, dragon-boating has helped Slocum in school and in her personal life. The teamwork necessary to paddle the large boats has drawn her out of her shell, something that can be a challenge.
“Normally I’m not a sociable person, I just tend to keep to myself,” Slocum said. “It just helps you be a better person all around and you meet new people. It gives you great social skills.”
Even though Slocum is nervous about meeting her new teammates, Kress is confident she’ll do well in the races.
“I absolutely know that she can do it, and I know she’s going to excel at it,” Kress said. “Kasey’s done the work.”
After competing at the world championship, Slocum plans to continue dragon-boating in a recreational capacity. A student at Lake Superior College, she hopes to pursue a career in writing.
“I think worlds is going to be the biggest thing I ever accomplish,” she said.