About two dozen people gathered at the K-State’s Ahearn Natatorium on Tuesday as part of a world-wide effort to break the Guinness world record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson. UFM Community Learning Center began hosting the event last year as part of its summer swimming lesson program through the Red Cross.
Kayla Oney, education coordinator, said last year UFM had about 60 participants, including swimmers and instructors. She said she and other UFM leaders incorporated it into their regular swim schedule to make it easier for those already attending swimming lessons through the center to participate.
Libby Zachary, Manhattan, said she and her kids attended because they were already taking lessons at the natatorium on Tuesdays. Daniel Zachary, 10, said he wanted to take lessons again this year even though he can dive off the diving board and has already passed his beginner swimming lessons. Helen Zachary, 6, and Abigail Zachary, 8, were just as excited to participate in the world-wide event that in the past has had more than 700 facilities and 15 countries on five continents participate. Daniel said what he liked most about the event is that he gets one more day to spend in the pool. Helen and Abigail said they were just looking forward to getting in the water.
Maggie Morrill, 10, brought her best friend, Chloe Begnoche, 10, along for the event. Like the Zacharys, though, Morrill and Begnoche said they were looking forward to getting in the water more than being a part of a world-wide effort to break a record.
The event began in 2010 as a way to raise awareness in child drowning, which is the number-one cause of accidental death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, according to World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, the organization that hosts the event.
The event took place at 3 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, which was 10 a.m. Central Daylight Time. Oney said UFM paid a small fee to the Red Cross to participate in the event, but it was free to the public.
The half-hour swim lesson covered a strict time table beginning at 10 a.m. sharp, and it included basic pool safety like how properly to enter and exit the pool; breathing and submerging; floating; and basic swimming strokes, both kicking and front crawl.
“Floating is very, very importing with swimming safety,” Oney said.
Last year the record for the event was set at 24,873 participants world-wide. This year the event only drew about 25 participants from Manhattan area.