Timing is Everything–Cathedral Village

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Few sports require more true teamwork than dragon boat racing. This ancient ritual turned modern athletic event requires 20 paddlers, one drummer to keep time, and one sweep who steers the boat. The paddlers must be perfectly synchronized to succeed. In dragon boat racing, timing really is everything.

“It looks easy when you see people who are good at it doing it,” said Sarah West, 76, of dragon boating, which she came to 12 years ago after recovering from breast cancer. “It is all about technique and timing, and a team has to be very precise to do well.”

A resident of Cathedral Village, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Philadelphia, Sarah also learned firsthand that timing is the key to a fulfilling retirement. “My husband, Bob, and I moved here when we were fairly young, and it really was a very good decision,” she recalled. “Moving early gave me the chance to take care of him and have an active life of my own.”

Longtime residents of Philadelphia, the Wests wanted to move to a retirement community where their changing healthcare needs could be met, so they would never be a burden on their three children. After looking at several local options, they decided that Cathedral Village was the perfect new home, largely because of its amenities.

Sarah West utilizes the fitness center’s conditioning equipment and swimming pool.

Sarah West utilizes the fitness center’s conditioning equipment and swimming pool.

“We had a couple of friends living here already, and we knew that in addition to being lovely, Cathedral Village also offers lots of activities to keep you intellectually alert and physically active,” Sarah said.

A former science teacher, Sarah taught subjects ranging from biology and physics to earth science at the high school and college levels. She still uses her science background to give free geology and history tours in the nearby Wissahikon Park. She has also taught several courses at the Village College, a lifelong learning program run by the residents of Cathedral Village.

For Sarah, staying intellectually active has always been important, and she relishes the chance to both teach and learn from her peers. “Moving to a community like Cathedral Village provides so many opportunities to be a contributing member of an active community. It’s so good for your morale,” she said.

Sarah’s morale also gets a boost every time she heads out on the water with her dragon boating teammates. She noted, “Dragon boat racing keeps you motivated to stay fit because you want to be a paddler, not a passenger.” Recently, Sarah joined a team of 60-plus paddlers and traveled to Hungary to compete in an international festival. Sarah and her team earned several medals. “It was so exciting to win. I thought that just happened to young people, not to old people like me,” she said with a smile.

Sarah, 76, competes in regional and international dragon boat races.

Sarah, 76, competes in regional and international dragon boat races.

That win was the result of a year-round training schedule that includes workouts two or three times a week on the Schuylkill River or in an indoor training facility. Sarah supplements her training with vigorous workouts in the athletic facility at Cathedral Village. “Our fitness center on campus is really excellent, and it is one of the reasons that I can be a dragon boater,” she said.

Offering the security of lifelong care and a wide range of amenities, Cathedral Village gives Sarah the peace of mind she needs to focus on more important things: like her next season of dragon boat racing. As she continues to hone her technique and her timing as a paddler, she is enormously grateful that she moved to a retirement community at the perfect time. Whether you are paddling a dragon boat or planning your future, timing is, after all, everything.

Published: November 2013


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