Silverthorne Rec Center contributes to world’s largest swimming lesson
On Friday, June 20, the Silverthorne Recreation Center was part of a record-setting effort to pull off the world’s biggest swim lesson.
The Guinness World Records organization recently made the final count official, documenting that a grand total of 36,564 people from 22 countries set a fifth consecutive Guinness record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson ever conducted.
The record attempt was promoted by an organization called the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, created by the World Waterpark Association to communicate the fundamental importance of teaching children to swim. Aquatic centers, waterparks, local swimming pools and YMCAs in countries around the world, from Brazil and Ecuador to Uganda, Sudan and Portugal, united for the effort.
“It was a unique way for people to be a Guinness record holder,” said Suzanna Barth, program pool manager at the Silverthorne rec center. “Everybody kind of has fancy ideas about how that would be cool to be a part of, so it was a nice idea and it copied right in along with what we’re about here at the pool, trying to teach swim lessons and promoting the whole message that this swim lesson, in particular, promoted.”
That lesson is that swimming lessons save lives, and learning to swim helps to prevent drowning deaths, Barth said.
SETTING A RECORD
In order to be a part of the record attempt, the rec center had to abide by specific parameters set forth by Guinness. Jamie Panas Antoniou, senior public relations manager for Guinness, said those guidelines, in general, include having all participants in the pool throughout the lesson, with adequate pool space to allow each participant to take part; pre-submitted lesson plans; and a minimum lesson length of 30 minutes. The lessons also launched at the same time around the world.
“We have the same lesson plan as everybody else,” Barth said. “They set for you to have to start at 11 a.m. Eastern Time… That was easy for us to do Mountain Time at 9, but I don’t know what that turns out to be in Dubai. In some places, you have the swim lessons going on in the middle of the night. That’s different enough to make it seem like oh, wow.
“The countdown is really cool, too. As it’s approaching the 9 o’clock hour, you’re like, OK, this is the official time, then a countdown from 20 or 15 seconds, and they all jump into the pool at the same time. A lot of the kids really liked that, to start the lesson when everybody else around the world was jumping in.”
The lesson plan was broken down into 5- to 10-minute increments, Barth said, with general elements like floating and diving that could be adjusted to the skill levels of the students. A wide range of swimmers took part in the lesson, and Silverthorne contributed 69 participants to the total number, up from 40 at last year’s event.
“We had people that have been very close with drowning victims, who feel very passionate about the message, and past instructors that feel passionate about the message,” Barth said. “We had a handful of kids that do swim lessons here anyway, but the fact that it was free and breaking a world record, that excitement level was high.”
It was the first exposure to a swim lesson for some of the kids, Barth said, and many parents had that ah-ha moment of realization that having their kids learn how to swim is important to their safety.
The worldwide achievement involved people from “all across the board, all walks of swimming ability and society, coming together and realizing the importance of the message,” Barth said. “To think, people right now across the world, right this very second, they are doing the same lesson — that was kind of weird to think about for some people, but wow, that’s cool.”
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