With a name like the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, you expect something big, but this year the host facilities outdid themselves.
Determined to set a Guinness World Record for the fifth year in a row, the facilities pulled out all the stops to attract participants. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it’s for a good cause — to draw attention to the need to teach children to swim, and thus help lower the drowning rate for those under age 14.
What, exactly, is the WLSL? Every June — on the same day at the same moment — tens of thousands of people hop into swimming pools around the world for swim lessons. This year’s event was held June 20 at YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, swim schools and waterparks. Exact numbers will not be known until all of the documentation for Guinness is completed, but it looks as if the record has been broken again, said Aleatha Ezra, event coordinator of WLSL, and director of park member development at World Waterpark Association, Kansas City, Mo.
In 2013, the numbers breakdown was 432 host locations in 13 countries; 32,450 participants; and the largest participation at a single location was 908. According to Ezra, here’s how the 2014 stats are stacking up: 918 registered host locations in 26 countries; 40,000 participants; and the largest participation at a single location was 1,300. Apparently Sun-N-Fun Lagoon in Naples, Fla., will take the honors for the most participants in 2014.
Many hosts that have been involved with the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson over the years decided to beat their personal bests this year, Ezra said. In the case of Sun-N-Fun Lagoon waterpark, partners such as the local hospital, police and fire departments, and day camps sent volunteers to help boost participation and staff the event.
“We and all supporting organizations are thrilled to see how the aquatics community has rallied — there’s been so much enthusiasm [for the WLSL]!” Ezra said.