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TAKING THE PLUNGE - HOW ONE LADY FROM COCKERMOUTH IS ENJOYING A SWIMMINGLY GOOD RETIREMENT

Since moving to McCarthy Stone’s Lancaster Court, Rosie Broadbent divides her time between volunteering at Cockermouth foodbank, walking various peaks and deep diving into her latest and greatest hobby, open water swimming. 

Having always lived an active lifestyle, constantly on the go and looking towards her next challenge, Rosie is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Deep-diving into the latest trend of open water swimming, at 63, Rosie has set her eyes on becoming the ‘oldest open water swimmer in the country’. 

“Since a young age, growing up in Kenya, I’ve always been a great swimmer, although I’ve never been a fan of swimming baths. I saw that open water and cold water swimming were becoming quite the craze online and I fell in love with the idea of giving it a try. I went down to Bassenthwaite Lakes and took the plunge (quite literally!). I’ve never looked back since.” 

Hoping to maintain her levels of fitness during her best years, Rosie swims the equivalent of two to three lengths of a standard sized swimming pool each time she visits the open waters of Bassentwaite Lakes. And despite the comforts of a heated pool offered elsewhere, Rosie shows no signs of being put off by cold weather conditions, often taking the plunge into water as cold as zero degrees. 

“People must think I’m mad, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. My sister was dead against it at first, but she came round and gave it a try. The buzz you get after trying something so different is amazing. As long as you’re safe by using a colourful bouy to be spotted easily, and you’re fully aware of the currents, you eliminate any risk. Personally, I always look to tell people when I am going to the lakes, so somebody knows where I am at all times.”

The benefits of swimming in later life are paramount and something that Rosie is keen to share with others at Lancaster Court and retirees in the Cockermouth area. Rosie says: “Not only does swimming improve your heart’s health by making it stronger and larger to improve the cardiovascular system, but swimming is also gentle on the joints and increases flexibility. Not to mention all the benefits it can have on a person’s mental health.” 

The outdoors has always played a big part of Rosie’s life, ever since she was a child in Kenya. Her father was an Agricultural Officer so being outside always felt natural to her. At the age of 13, Rosie moved back to the UK with her family. At 18 years old, Rosie married her late husband Rob. With a love for the outdoors, Rosie would spend her time with her husband fell-walking, making as many cherished memories together in the great outdoors as possible. 

Rosie worked as a Nurse at West Cumberland Hospital until she took an early retirement to care for her husband when he grew poorly. Sadly, her husband, Rob, passed away and Rosie found herself living in her family home which now felt too big for just her. 

Rosie commented: “I couldn’t settle in such a big house on my own. I’d always had my husband to keep me company and it felt so empty with him gone. We had lived in the same house ever since we got married, but the constant worry of repairs that needed doing, a garden that needed attention and the security aspect - I was struggling to sleep at night.”

“Keeping busy has always been a big part of my mantra so I decided to give back to my local community by volunteering at Cockermouth foodbank which I thoroughly enjoy. However, after the loss of my husband, when I would finish volunteering I would arrive home to an empty house filled with dread. I wasn’t living my usual active lifestyle either. I wasn’t out walking or swimming as much as I once cherished. One day when I finally kicked myself into gear, I was out walking at the time and passed Lancaster Court. I decided to take a leap of faith and take a look around – and as they say, the rest is history.”

Rosie is a big believer that downsizing to McCarthy Stone has improved her health and mindset, and she now lives with a real ‘feel good factor’ about each and every day. Rosie says: “At first, I didn’t know if I was ready to downsize – I didn’t want to give up the life I used to enjoy. But in actual fact, what it’s allowed me to do is be more active than ever.”  

Since moving into Lancaster Court, Rosie has become part of a truly fun and supportive community, with other homeowners coming together to install a collection box at the Retirement Living development for food donations to help out the local foodbank where she volunteers. Rosie jokes that she wishes the homeowners would join her for a dip in the Bassenthwaite Lakes too, but she’s yet to receive any takers. “Everyone I have met lives a busy life and there’s never a dull moment with plenty of social events and trips out for dinner.”

“Bassenthwaite Lakes has now become my happy place, there’s nothing I love more than taking my bright coloured bouy out and experiencing the freshness and freedom of the outdoors - its such beautiful scenery to be around.” 

With the summer months just around the corner, Rosie can’t wait to make the most of the hopeful good weather and is hoping to get out to the lakes for quick dip as often as possible.