Swimmers help set world record for largest swimming lesson

June 8, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Young and old to be named in Guinness Book

Issaquah residents helped swimming pools reach new heights June 3 by participating in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.

More than 50 people, ages 4 to 85, came to the Julius Boehm Pool to participate in the history-making event that took place at more than 200 locations in nine countries.

Local participants joined others from as far away as Lebanon, Zambia and Dubai for the lesson, held simultaneously. In all, the swim lesson was expected to have more than 10,000 participants worldwide. As of Monday, an official number still hadn’t been compiled.

Cameron Simmons takes a big gulp of air before bobbing underwater as K.C. Gere (left) and Katie Hirshberg (in background) teach two children’s classes, part of a coordinated worldwide swim class record attempt at the Julius Boehm Pool. By Greg Farrar

This is the first year the world record has been attempted. It was created to promote the need for water safety education, swim lessons and to help reduce incidences of drowning worldwide, according to a press release from World’s Largest Swim Lesson, the organization that coordinated the efforts.

“I love swimming!” young Jessica Hill, Morgan Atkinson and Brynn Fortner shouted together.

The three girls were in a lesson with instructor Kris Anderson, who taught general floating, safety and swimming principals — the same lesson the adults got.

“A big part of this event is safety, like kids’ swim lessons,” Anderson said. “But a bigger part of this is teaching adults about water safety. Adults lap swim, do exercise classes or exercise on their own, but no one talks about safety with them. We had a lot adults today and we were able to do that.”

“I heard about it and thought it would be fun,” said Bobbie Anderson, 85.

While she has been swimming for a long time, Anderson said she learned some new things, like holding her hands near her ears to float better in the water.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death of children ages 1-14. Research shows if a child doesn’t learn to swim by third grade, they likely never will.

Once the event is deemed “official” by the Guinness Book of World Records, all participants will be world record holders, according to Pool Manager Jen Newton.

“I think it was cool,” said Jarrod Stambaugh, 11, of Snoqualmie. “The coolest part is being in the World Book of Records and being famous.”

“Being in the Guinness World Book of Records is a pretty cool thing and not a lot of people have the opportunity to be in it individually, so being part of something collective is a neat opportunity,” agreed his mother, Jackie Stambaugh.

The event was the culmination of National Water Safety Month. The swim may become an annual event.

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