It’s likely that some Summit County swimmers will soon be able to call themselves official Guinness World Record holders — along with what is anticipated to be close to 35,000 others worldwide.
The Breckenridge and Silverthorne recreation centers joined forces Tuesday to participate in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson (WLSL) program, a record-setting event to promote swimming and water safety globally. According to information from WLSL, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children under 14. The program is designed to bring attention to the importance of teaching youths and adults how to swim.
“Swimming lessons can and do save lives,” said Suzanna Barth, program pool manager at the Silverthorne rec center. She expressed her excitement about being involved in the program.
“I think we’ll be doing it every year,” she said.
The lesson kicked off across the globe at 9 a.m. Mountain time. Participating swim organizations worked with a standardized 30-minute curriculum to be completed simultaneously worldwide. While participants couldn’t see their 35,000 swimming classmates, impartial observers were on hand to report participation back to the Guinness World Records organization.
Particpants at the Silverthorne rec center lined up along the side of the pool and all jumped in at once to start the lesson.
This is the first year that the two rec centers have served as official host locations for the program, which is now in its fourth year.
“It went really great,” said Barth. “Everyone was smiling, having fun.”
Barth said Silverthorne had 45 particpants, ranging in age from 11 months to over 70 years. Breckenridge added 11, mostly young, participants to the swimmer count.
Representatives from the Breck rec center said the early start time of the lesson made it difficult to get more involvement, particularly among preschool-aged kids who were not yet in school.
“This year was kind of a test run,” said Will Hendricks, head lifeguard for the Breck rec center.
He said he’s hopeful the facility will be able to organize more participation next year.
“I think it’s great promoting swim lessons,” he said.
WLSL has set the Guiness World Record for largest simultaneous swimming lesson in each of the last three years. In 2012, 24,873 participants from 15 countries, spanning five continents, took part in the event.
This year WLSL set a goal of 35,000 participants. Barth said the results should be made official some time in July.