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Splish splash: Swimming lesson promotes water safety

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. From left, Darynell King, 4, Hunter Tayler, 6, Lacey Kinard, 6, and Jamell Council, 6, get swim instructions from Manda Groth on Tuesday morning at Bethesda Aquatic Center in Lawrenceville. The Gwinnett County pool took part in the world's largest swim lesson in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. From left, Darynell King, 4, Hunter Tayler, 6, Lacey Kinard, 6, and Jamell Council, 6, get swim instructions from Manda Groth on Tuesday morning at Bethesda Aquatic Center in Lawrenceville. The Gwinnett County pool took part in the world's largest swim lesson in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Melanie Kinard signed up her children to participate in a swimming lesson Tuesday at the Bethesda Aquatic Center, but when she saw there was a section for adults, she decided to participate, too.

After all, the event was part of an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.

The Aquatic Center served as a host site for the World's Largest Swimming Lesson, created as a platform to help aquatic facilities and water safety and drowning prevention organizations work together to communicate the importance of teaching children to swim.

"A lot of facilities all over the world are simultaneously holding the same swimming lesson," Aquatic Supervisor Kristin Hahn said. "Tens of thousands of kids signed up to participate."

At the Bethesda Aquatic Center, about 30 swimmers participated in the event, all of whom received a World Record Breaker Certificate.

Kayla Smith, 10, said she wanted to participate in the lesson to receive a certificate. She said she also learned a lot about pool safety, such as how to enter the pool. Swimmers were also practiced bobbing, floating and kicking in the pool.

Kayla said she thinks it's important for everyone to learn about water safety.

"If you don't know how to swim, you can drown and die," she said.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death of children ages 1 to 14, according to a press release from the World's Largest Swimming Lesson. More than one in four fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger. Research shows if a child doesn't learn to swim before the third grade, they likely never will.

Hahn, the aquatic supervisor, said water safety is taught at all Gwinnett County facilities.

"It's something everyone needs to know, no matter what age they are ... (and) no matter what swimming level they're at," she said.

Kennedy Taylor, who is turning 11 this week, said she thinks the lesson helped her become a better swimmer.

"The stuff I didn't understand, I had help on," she said, "like when I was swimming, I kept sinking."

Kinard said she felt the event was beneficial for her as well as her children, who are 6 and 8.

"I'm using techniques that I forgot over the years and relearning," she said. "It's teaching a lot of things I'm going to reinforce with my children."