Pyro Paddlers ready to go again

UIC's Dragon Boat Team

After racing at the St. Charles Riverfest, the Pyro Paddlers will compete at Ping Tom Park July 13. Photo: Derrick Yang

UIC’s Pyro Paddlers came out to Fox River strong at the St. Charles Riverfest June 8.

After the time trial the team was seeded No. 6 in the Komodo Division — bracket of the top eight qualifiers. However, the six-second difference between the team and its opponent, the Steel Dragons, proved to be too much as the Paddlers came up short and were eliminated in the opening round of eight. The Bad Ass Bikers took overall first place in the Komodo Division.

“We were relatively happy with our performance given that this was our first competition for a lot of our paddlers,” said Elvin Chan, assistant director of the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, which organizes the team.

The team’s next competition at the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy, July 13 in Ping Tom Park, 300 W. 19th St., will prove to be another challenge, but the team remains optimistic.

“I believe we’ll put in a very good performance,” said team coach Lowell Seida, an Honors College grad.

Last year, the Paddlers waded through 26 teams to advance to the quarterfinals before falling to Team Trooper — eventual second-place finishers — to secure seventh place overall in the race.

The team hopes to build off their positive performance last year in Ping Tom Park with another good showing at this upcoming race along the Chicago River.

“We’re optimistic this year,” he said. “Last year we were very pleased with how things went.”

Dragon boat racing, which originated in Southern China, uses a boat with typically 20 paddlers, one drummer and one sweep (steerer). The crew paddles to the cadence of the drummer, with the most synchronized and efficient team crossing the finish line first to win.

The UIC Pyro Paddlers began in 2008 and includes UIC students, staff, faculty and alumni.

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