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Dale Wolowicz

Dale Wolowicz, 71

Dragonboater, outrigger paddler, kayaker, SUP, retired nurse

Years of paddling: 5

Teams: Team Momentum, FGPC Outrigger program

“I am appreciating life even a lot more because I can go on the water.”

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For Dale Wolowicz, paddling wasn’t love at first sight.  In fact, she wondered why she was doing it at all. And then, the magic happened.

Q: What do you like most about paddling?

A: I just love being on the water, and I like the camaraderie.

I first joined because my friends were already paddling. And in my first few sessions I thought, ‘this isn’t fun,’ because I’m a little bit competitive and I wasn’t getting it. It was a lot of hard work and I had performance anxiety at a few competitions. I mean my heart was pounding.

I learned a lot about myself and now I love it.

I love being on the water. I love everyone that you paddle with. 

Everybody is positive. There’s no negativity, except for maybe the occasional person. It’s just lots of fun.

Q: How has paddling affected your life?

A: I couldn’t join clubs because I used to work 12-hour shifts. And then I retired and I joined the dragon boat team. So I started to go to the gym, and it was a slog at first. But I’ve been able to get fitter and I’m working at getting stronger. And, I’m 71, so it excites me that I’m able to stay physically active.

Q: How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis?

A: Before the COVID shutdown we had a trainer and there were six to 10 of us in the gym class. So you want to go and workout and you want to work harder than the other guy because you want to lift more than the other person.

When COVID hit, I didn’t babysit my grand-daughter for a whole month, so I was really bummed out about that. I only went grocery shopping twice in that period, and it was hard to cope. I tried to work out at home, but….

Q: So you were more than ready when the club started its Extraordinary Access Programs, right?

A: We started with the kayak at first because I didn’t want to go in the OC1 until I was more confident. 

In fact, I never would have done OC1 this year if it weren’t for COVID. I had no interest in it. Then I decided to sign up and try it, but I was like: ‘What am I doing?” 

I prefer team things, because it’s more fun, and there’s the camaraderie. I never wanted to do OC1 because I thought none of my friends would do it. I’m not a loner; I don’t like to go alone, especially on the water.

Doing an OC1 recovery was really daunting to me, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. I thought I’d be out of the class because I couldn’t do a recovery. And now, I’m just so loving it.

Q: What have you learned about yourself as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?

A: Every time I go out I am so grateful. I am appreciating life even a lot more because I can go on the water. I just think I wouldn’t be this active. And I wouldn’t have a community of people to do these things with. This gave me a huge amount of confidence. 

And, the racing or the time trials, they were a key factor because it just makes you feel so good when you can do better. 

Q: When it comes to paddling, is there a special memory for you?

A: My team Momentum, because I started with them. They’re 50+ and then we got into some races and then the Seniors Games. And with a little success, you start to feel so good. And Holly and Keith, who were our managers, have been so good about keeping us all organized. And then there’s Miles and the other coaches. They’re so good at critiquing your stroke. I don’t know how they do it.

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

A: Getting back with Momentum, my dragon boat team because it would be fun to be with all of those guys again. The team needs everybody. And I think we’re stronger because a lot of us from our team have gone to the gym and keep going.

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