Dozens of swimmers strapped on their goggles and made a splash in Arbuckle on Thursday, as part of a record setting day of drowning prevention awareness.
The Worlds Largest Swimming Lesson is a world-wide event, sponsored by the World Waterpark Association, where both children and adults can participate in swim lessons offered at hundreds of certified locations across the globe annually in June.
“Swimmers don’t have to be taking lessons here already to participate,” said Mary Grimmer, Arbuckle Parks and Recreation Manager. “The lessons are totally free to anyone that wants to participate on the day of the event.”
This event was created in 2010 as a platform to support public education about safer water practices and to build awareness about the critical importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning, said Aleatha Ezra, director of Park Member Development for the World Waterpark Association.
Grimmer said the Arbuckle Swimming Pool has been participating in this worldwide event for the last five years.
“I like that we do this here in Arbuckle,” Grimmer said. “It is great to promote swimming lessons.”
While the total number of participating locations will not be available until August, Ezra estimates that there were 700 host locations participating in this year’s World’s Largest Swimming Lesson event, including the Arbuckle Swimming Pool.
“Since its inception, more than 278,000 children and adults have participated in WLSL events helping to spread the message ‘Swimming Lessons Save Lives’ to more than a billion children and adults,” Ezra said.
The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson event holds the current Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson conducted at multiple venues. According to the WLSL website, the official record was set in 2014 with 36,564 participants in 22 countries.
This year, 85 swimmers participated in one of the two swimming lesson sessions offered at the Arbuckle Swimming Pool during the 24 hour event.
“We are one of the smaller locations,” Grimmer said. “Some of the other hosts have hundreds of participants.”
More than 50,000 kids in 30 countries worldwide were registered to participate this year, read the WLSL website.
“Swimming is a life skill,” Grimmer said. “It's so important to teach people how to stay safe in and around the water.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning remains the leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for U.S. children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause for children under 14.
In addition to participating in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson, the Arbuckle Swimming Pool also provides swimming lessons for all skill sets throughout the summer. Grimmer said these lessons include unconventional swimming situation trainings, such as swimming with clothes on, to better prepare swimmers for any situation they may find themselves in.