This weekend, 72 members of the 76-person Dragon Boat USA team hopped in the Schuylkill behind Manayunk Brewery for a three-day intensive training camp. 

The team was training for the International Canoe Federation's Dragon Boat World Championships, which will be held next month in Milan, Italy. 

At a press conference on Friday, Mike Blundetto, coaching and training chairman of Dragon Boat USA, said many of the team members were meeting for the first time this weekend. The athletes, who are from 16 different states throughout the country, earned their spots at competitive trials, which started in October. 

"Our primary goal and objective [for this weekend] is getting our skill sets down with our timing," Blundetto said. 

Members of the team will be training an estimated three times a week throughout the year. Blundetto said he chose Manayunk as the site for the camp because he "wanted everyone to see what Manayunk has to offer."

"To have these teams here right in our neighborhood, on our water, it just doesn't get any better than this," said Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation. 

The team was also on hand to search for members of a new dragon boat junior league. 

"We're launching an initiative for next year to go to the Ukraine for the World Club Crew Championships as Manayunk," said Blundetto. "We're committed to putting a junior team on the water, ages 15 to 18, to compete."

Anyone who is interested in trying out, can go to manayunkdbracing.org


Photos by Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks