Enter the dragon

A morning spent on the water offers an insight into a team's committed search for harmony

"Paddles up."

It's like a war cry, an order to prepare, a prelude to pain. The yeller of this instruction is standing at the back of the dragon boat, holding a wooden rudder which looks old enough to have been used in ancient Egyptian war galleys. Her name is Lim Xiaowei and she's 30, charming, a national dragonboater, coach of the DBS Asia Dragons Ladies Team and has the decisive tone of a commanding officer. She is the coxswain on this Sunday and in every way she gives us direction.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 26, 2019, with the headline 'Enter the dragon'. Print Edition | Subscribe