The Campus Recreation department is helping break a Guinness world record tonight.
The World’s Largest Swim Lesson is an annual event that includes sites all across the globe contributing to one cause: water safety. Each year, the program breaks its own record and adds new sites for an evening of awareness and swimming lessons.
Mark Garneau, assistant director of aquatics at Campus Recreation, said the university was invited to join this year’s World’s Largest Swim Lesson and he jumped at the chance to be a part of it.
“I said ‘We have got to get on this,’” Garneau said. “It’s a great activity. Why not?”
Claire Harris, the graduate assistant for the director of aquatics, has been helping prepare for the event ever since.
Harris said the community has already shown a great interest in the event, and some of their other swim classes and camps will join. Other groups such as the Boy Scouts and Rebel Quest have also volunteered to attend. This puts the current, tentative tally at around 200 students, Harris said.
“The event is not just here,” Harris said. “There are over 550 locations across the world.”
The World’s Largest Swim Lesson set its first record in 2010 with 32,450 participants, their website said, but broke its record again last year with 36,564 people from 22 countries.
Harris said part of the lesson will be focused on swimming safety and simple rescue techniques, part on actual swimming lessons and will end with free time. The lesson is geared for anyone 6 months old and up, she said.
After the lesson, each site will tally up their attendance and send it in to make the count for the world’s largest swim record.
Harris said the real goal, however, was to increase water safety. According to the World’s Largest Swim Lesson website, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14. Garneau said a recent drowning in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, made him aware of just how crucial this training is.
Garneau said he hoped this would raise awareness of the availability of swim classes that are available each summer in the Turner Center.
The free event will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Turner Center. Anyone who is interested should send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bracelets will be given to all participants.