Jolane Fenner

Jolane Fenner poses for a picture while taking part in dragon boat racing. 

Jolane Fenner, a triathlon athlete and high school swimmer, has always been adept in the water, but hardly ever tried her hand in any boating activities.

While still living in Denver during a charity event, Fenner — who now works at Montrose Memorial Hospital — heard some folks talk about dragon boat racing. When she asked them about it, they didn’t only explain it but asked her to come out and try it out for herself.

During Fenner’s trial run with the Phantom Dragons in Denver, she learned the sport comes down to being a technically sound competitor.

“I relate it to my ski racing days,” she said. “Within yourself, it’s about being strong and technically correct. But how the team brings that together is how you win the race.”

Dragon boating consists of a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. It began in Southern China before expanding into other parts of Asia, as well as, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States.

Fenner will see firsthand what those countries are like in dragon boat racing. She was selected to Team USA for the 14th IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships. The competition will be from Aug. 20-25 in Pattaya-Rayong, Thailand.

“I’m just honored,” Fenner said of earning a spot on Team USA. “I get to continue working hard.”

Fenner is doing this competition with the United States Dragon Boat Federation. The USDBF is a member of the IDBF-the International Dragon Boat Federation, the international governing body of dragon boating.

As a member of the IDBF, the USDBF sends a national team to IDBF World Championship Events in odd-numbered years and is given five berths to send representative club crews in each division to Club Crew World Championships in even-numbered years, according to the USDBF website.

Currently, the USDBF provides four of these berths to its regional champions and one to the national champion in each division.

But, a few months ago, Fenner didn’t think such an opportunity would present itself.

Back in the fall last year, Fenner was getting ready for practice when she overheard her teammates talking about their captain trying out for the USA squad. She also learned their captain wasn’t the only one hoping to qualify as a handful of others were going to give it a try.

In fact, Fenner said she was so shocked by this when a teammate asked her if she’s going to the test a try, she replied, “I’m not sure how to do that.”

But with a little research, Fenner was able to track down what she needed to do and set up a tryout. The day of the event was stressful for Fenner, recalling being “nervous as a cat” before she took to the water.

“But people were super supportive,” she said. “(They said), ‘Don’t worry you’ll figure it out.’”

Sure enough, she impressed the committee and is now preparing to compete in Thailand.

Fenner said this chance has been a way to make herself train even harder these next few weeks.

“It’s a great motivator for me to represent the USA on a national level,” Fenner said.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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