By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dragon boats have taken over the Schuylkill River for the 8th annual Independence Regatta.

Thousands of people turned out Saturday for what has become America’s fastest-growing water sport. More than 70 teams — of 20 rowers each — competed, while supporters watched from party tents along the banks.

“It’s a great day to be out here on the river, everybody enjoying themselves and a lot of good camaraderie,” says Ken Wong.

Wong is captain of the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association, a group that’s growing, thanks to these races that pull in people who want to try something new and get hooked.

“I am fitter now at 58 than I was at 28,” says Meny Menewisch, who started rowing with the River Sisters, a team made up of cancer survivors. “Cancer gave me a gift in that I met these women and I found this sport.”

Her teammate, Joan, agrees:

“We achieve something so special together, not just racing and exercise, but the connections we have with one another are beyond words.”

The regatta is a pretty low-stakes competition, mostly a fundraiser.

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