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Barb Hughes

Barb Hughes

Sports: Former outrigger, current dragon boat paddler, pickleball player and hiker

Years of Paddling: 7

“You just learn to adapt and move on, right? We’re all adaptable people. That’s what humans are about. One day we’ll all be back to it. We just need patience.”

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Q: What inspires you most about paddling?/What do you enjoy most about paddling?

A: I love being on the water and I love the scenery. What better place, you know? Particularly in Victoria, going up and down the Gorge and all the fun things you see, and the wildlife. I like being outdoors on the water and in different conditions. 

I enjoy the camaraderie in dragon boats. Our team was really good about getting everybody out, so we always had a complete boat at all of our practices.

Everybody gets involved and everyone seems to give it their best.

Q: How has paddling and the paddling community affected your life?

A: It’s been great. I’m paddling with a group of seniors who are a lovely bunch of people who embrace life and activity. It’s an extension of another group that I play pickleball with, and they’re just a great group of people. It’s just a fun, fun place to be.

Q: How active were you before COVID-19 hit and what are you doing now?

A: I was doing dry-land training with about six women who are all on the same team, getting ready for the start of the season. But then, of course, we just sort of abruptly stopped. 

When we were allowed back into the gym we continued our dry-land training. Some went off to do single boat stuff but, but the single boat stuff has no match with dragon boating. I enjoy paddling with a group and the reason I joined paddling was the social aspect, and you get a lot of that with dragon boating.

As for right now, I live very close to Mount Doug Park, so I can hike whenever I want. I play pickleball in two different groups. And I’m still doing gym workouts, but at home now.

Q: Have you learned anything positive about yourself or your community as a result of the crisis?

A: You just learn to adapt and move on, right? We’re all adaptable people. That’s what humans are about. As I said that the part that I miss is the group gatherings, but it will come back. One day we’ll all be back to it. We just need patience and all that stuff. 

So maybe in the spring. I’m just hopeful that next year will be different.

Q: When it comes to paddling, is there a person, event or team that has a special memory for you?

A: Last year was basically my first year of dragon boating. So paddling with a senior team, Momentum, was a lot of fun. We did quite well and we just got great coaching from everyone at Fairway Gorge but particularly Erik. He guided us along the way and we got where we should be and did a little bit better each time we went out. 

It was great, and everyone at the club is very positive whether it’s dry land or on the water. The Senior Games in Kelowna were a lot of fun, and we did the Penticton Festival the week before. 

The social side of things — travelling with a bunch of people — was very positive.

The average age for our boat is, I think, is something like 72. We didn’t get the exact result we wanted but we did very well. 

Q: Is there a coach or mentor you’d like to recognize, and why?

A: We had a really good dry-land coach who really got it. There were six or eight of us ‘Old Women’ and Kyle got us into lifting and building strength. Kyle is not there right now, but he was just great for steering us in the right direction and how to use the gym to get a better result. We called him Killer Kyle, but he was very good about training us and the results just really showed in the boat.

Q: When this crisis passes, in terms of paddling, what are you looking forward to the most when normalcy returns?

A: I’m just looking forward to the routine of going to regular practices twice a week, and seeing everybody on the Gorge when everyone is practicing. It’s really fun to go up and down the Gorge and see who’s doing what and enjoy the excitement of regular practices. It really provides a good vibe downtown. Take back the Gorge!

All proceeds from the 2021 calendar project will support FGPC’s race restart programs.