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Wendy Isdahl

Dragonboater, outrigger paddler, kayaker, retired LPN

Years of paddling: 7 so far

Teams: FGPC Momentum

“It feels good to be part of something great. The club to me is a saviour.”

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For Wendy Ishdal, paddling is more than a passion, it’s a way of life. We spoke to Wendy about what she loves most about her sport, and here’s what she had to say:

Nature’s splendor and the sheer beauty of being on the waters are just two of the many things that inspire Wendy Ishdal, a dragon boat paddler on Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s Team Momentum.

“I love being on the water and the beauty of where we are,” Wendy said after a cold, brisk morning of paddling in a coached OC1 session where she practised 1,500 metre sprints.

“There’s kingfishers, otters, seals, herons — that alone is just a wonderful thing.”

Wendy came to dragon boating after a knee injury. She wanted something physical that wouldn’t put too much pressure on her knee.

“My life is all about being at the club now,” Wendy says. “I feel so much more alive. I love the comradery of the team and I love being with the coaches. They inspire me.”

Before COVID-19 temporarily shut down operations at FGPC, Wendy paddled with Team Momentum twice a week, and was active in the gym. She also loved the buzz and bustle of dragon boat festivals, winning and losing races. 

Then COVID struck, and initially at least, Wendy was on her own.

But as FGPC gradually increased its COVID-compliant programs, Wendy returned to the gym, at first twice a week, and then three times a week, determined to work off a few extra COVID-era pounds. 

“And when they opened up the docks, I applied for the OC1 program,” Wendy says. “Oh my God, I don’t think I can do this. It’s daunting to get on that little piece of boat and try to balance it.”

Not only was Wendy successful, she and a few friends moved on to the next level, running several 1,500-metre pieces in twice-weekly practices and going out a couple of times a week on her own, including once a week in the club’s kayaks.

In pre-COVID days, Wendy loved practising with Team Momentum and travelling to regattas, making new friends along the way, and supporting each other, on and off the water. 

“I really admire the club and how they have handled getting the club open and staying on top of, all of the COVID restrictions for us. “They’re down there sterilizing and cleaning and it just feels good. If they didn’t do such a great job, we wouldn’t be out there.”

“it’s a joy for me to be out on the water. I feel healthier. I feel strong. I feel joyous. It’s just great.”

Really? Even in the cold, driving rain?

Wendy answers that by talking about her coaches. Keith Wilson to start with, then Erik Ages, our club’s general manager, and then “the boys”: coaches Kyle Chow, Marcus Krieger, Miles Tickner and Tristan Hatyon.

“I can’t say enough about them. they know their stuff and they know how to deliver it so that you can respond to what they’re asking from you. They never stop trying and they love to work us hard.”

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