The Taytay Boys, as the PCKF National Team is popularly known, have dominated local dragon boat races in the short time they’ve been on the scene, giving established greats like the Army, Fleet Marines, and Boracay All-Stars some worthy competition. We interviewed PCKF Head Coach Leonora Escollante to find out more about these boy (and soon, girl) wonders.
Coach Len, can you give us a short background on the Taytay Boys?
The majority of the team lives in Taytay, which is why we nicknamed them “The Taytay Boys.” Most of them were recruited by PCKF as early as 9 years old, to be trained as canoe-kayak and dragon boat athletes. Recruits who join past 14 years of age are trained as dragon boat paddlers only, because one of the first things I implemented when I became coach was the age limit for recruitment. In canoe-kayak, it’s important that the skill of balance is developed as early as possible.
Because we recruit them at such a young age, they also receive allowances and other subsidies, as well as development of good moral character and sportsmanship.
What are training sessions like?
We do intensive training around 6-8 months before events. During these periods, we initially paddle two to three times a day. Three to four months before the races, training sessions are increased to four times a day, every day. The intensity of each training session varies—for example, if we’re doing long-distance paddling, we start with a light warm-up, while sprints require a more intense warm-up. When it’s off-season, we paddle only every other day.
For cross training, we do swimming, weights, and different running programs like long-distance runs, uphill training, or sprints. We avoid pool paddling because using the normal blade in still water poses the risk of shoulder injury, unless you’re naturally very powerful or you’re using a narrow blade specifically for pool paddling. If our paddlers overexert themselves in pool paddling and their inner muscles aren’t ready, the chance of injury is too great.
Why are the Taytay Boys so strong? What’s your secret to beating all the other established strong teams?
Kaya nga sikreto, di ba?