CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Lowcountry Dragon Boat racing team is traveling down under to challenge the best in the world.
The Paddles and Pearls team races for Dragon Boat Charleston and is about to travel to Australia to compete at the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships. The team is already championship caliber. The women won the Nationals in Chicago last July. That earned them an automatic berth to the Worlds. Twenty paddlers sit in the 48-foot boat and race in 200, 500 and 2000 meter races.
One of the paddlers, Cynthia Smalls says because of it's success at a race in Sarasota two years ago, the team already knows it has the stuff to compete at the International level.
"Out of 101 teams, we ended up ranking fourth internationally," Smalls said. "So, we're ready. We know we have the stuff it takes."
These women paddle with a purpose on the Ashley River as they prepare to challenge the best in the world. But they've already faced an even bigger challenge in life. Paddles and Pearls is team full of Breast Cancer Survivors. Each woman has overcome her own personal battle and with the help and support of women who know just how they feel.
"We've seen people on our team come out and paddle in the midst of treatment," Smalls said. "They have radiation therapy that morning and they're out here that afternoon or evening paddling."
They've already beaten cancer. They hope the competitors in Australia will be their next conquest.
The competition begins April 1.
Find out more about Dragon Boat Charleston and the 2016 Dragon Boat festival by clicking here.