On the eve of the first official day of summer, people around the world tried to break the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson. The World Waterpark Association hopes to hit a new high-water mark for participation in the swim safety event for the fifth year in a row.
While the official numbers won’t be revealed for another month or so, the World Waterpark Association attempted to beat its own Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson last Friday.
Participants at more than 900 water parks, aquatic centers, swim schools, traditional pools, and YMCAs around the world gathered at the same time—some in the wee hours of the morning or late at night— for a simultaneous swim lesson.
“Although everyone’s not literally doing everything at the same time between the start and end, it’s basically the idea that everyone is participating in this lesson at generally the same time in all these different venues in all these different time zones throughout the world,” said Aleatha Ezra, WWA’s director of park member development.
WWA created the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson in 2010 as a way to promote swim safety. The event has progressively grown and bested its world record every year since then.
The association “was looking for a vehicle, a way to galvanize and bring together the many different aquatic organizations and water-park and swim-school facilities to focus on the ever important message of water safety and the importance of learning to swim,” Ezra said.
The event is a natural progression from National Water Safety Month, which takes place in May every year, she added. “We were looking for something to do in addition to that, more in the middle of the season in June, to keep the industry having something to rally around.”
Ten people drown every day in the United States, according to USA Swimming. The organization says swimming lessons can decrease the risk of drowning by almost 90 percent in children ages 1 to 4.
WWA hopes that this year’s participant numbers will top the 32,450 people who turned out for the event last year. The association projected an estimated 40,000 or more swimmers for 2014—that’s 10 times the original 4,000 people who participated in the first event four years ago, said Ezra, who noted that media and sponsorship support for the event have steadily grown over the years.
“The event is a really great way for our host locations to do something that promotes the safety messages that are so important, but also get some really nice, positive media coverage and bring their community together,” Ezra said.