Launch Slideshow

World's Largest Swimming Lesson 2014

Here's a look at what happened at a few of the lesson sites across the United States.

World's Largest Swimming Lesson 2014

Here's a look at what happened at a few of the lesson sites across the United States.

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    Loma Verde Aquatic Center, Chula Vista, Calif.
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    Family Aquatic Center- Greater Dayton Recreation Center, Dayton, Ohio
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    Hunt Club Park Aquatic Center, Gurnee, Ill.
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    Richmond Park Pool, Grand Rapids, Mich.
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    SeaWorld San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
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    Splash Kingdom Waterpark, Shreveport, La.
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    Courtesty World's Largest Swimming Lesson 2014

    Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, Naples, Fla.
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    The Dive Spot, Abilene, Texas
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    University of Houston
 

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 an important 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, from around the world, hop into swimming pools for lessons.

This year’s event was held June 20 at aquatics facilities, Boys & Girls Clubs, swim schools, YMCAs and waterparks.

The 2014 numbers are in and the Guinness record has been broken again, said Aleatha Ezra, event coordinator of WLSL, and director of park member development at World Waterpark Association, based in 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.

Ezra shared the 2014 stats: 926 registered host locations in 22 countries; 36,564 participants; and the largest participation at a single location was 1,308. Sun-N-Fun Lagoon in Naples, Fla., took the honors for the most participants.

Many host locations 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 were really focused on setting new records — well, we always are, but we particularly wanted to this year, with it being the five-year anniversary,” Ezra said.

WWA, which created the event, was happy to see that waterparks stepped up their game.

“There were 94 waterparks as host locations, with 12,664 participants — that’s approximately 35 percent of the total,” Ezra noted. Participation at aquatics facilities and YMCAs was up as well. Part of the reason is that the industry as a whole is more aware of the WLSL, Ezra said. Each year, well-known athletes such as 2014 WLSL spokeswoman Janet Evans, an Olympic gold medal swimmer, help publicize it. And many repeat hosts now put WLSL on their calendars.