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Fort dragon boaters up for award

Members of the Abreast with FORTitude dragon boat team, seen here in a 2013 national competition, are up for an award for their part in rescuing a man from drowning. - Facebook image
Members of the Abreast with FORTitude dragon boat team, seen here in a 2013 national competition, are up for an award for their part in rescuing a man from drowning.
— image credit: Facebook image

Some dragon boat racers are up for a Township of Langley commendation for saving a man from drowning in Bedford Channel in Fort Langley on April 14.

According to a written description of the incident, distributed to Township council, the man was rowing without a life jacket around 10 a.m. when he suffered a cramp and fell into the water.

Jan Choquete, a member of the Fast and Furious dragon boat team, alerted other boaters, directing them to help.

A man on the Fort Langley Canoe Club dock, who wishes to remain anonymous,  jumped in the water and swam to the floundering man and kept his head above the water until members of The Abreast with FORTitude dragon boat racers arrived.

“The fellow in the water, he was not staying afloat,” said team coach Juanita Peglar.

“He wasn’t able to swim, his head was going under the water, I think had it been in many more moments he wouldn’t have made it.”

The dragon boat racers put lifejackets on both men and towed them to shore.

The account of the incident suggested several people should be considered for commendation by the Township, including Choquette, the unnamed man who swam to the drowning man, and members of the Abreast with Fortitude team, including team steersperson Heather Innis.

At the urging of Councillor Charlie Fox, council has agreed to refer the details of the incident to Township fire chief Stephen Gamble for consideration.

“I think that should be recognized,” Fox said.

The Abreast with Fortitude team is one of six crews of Abreast In A Boat, the world’s first breast cancer dragon boat team. An online entry about the team says Abreast in a Boat was started to disprove the then-commonly-held theory that women who had undergone breast cancer surgery should not do rigorous upper body exercise.

The team has won multiple medals at various competitions including the Canadian National Championships (Silver), the False Creek Womens’ Regatta —Scotiabank Breast Cancer Race (Gold), the Nanaimo Breast Cancer Survivors Challenge (Gold) and the Rio Tinto Breast Cancer Challenge (Gold).

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