Christiansburg attempts record-setting swimming lesson
Many people might not remember the details of their earliest swimming lessons, but for the dozens of people at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center on Thursday, that moment should be a little harder to forget.
More than 100 participants joined people in 13 countries and across five continents in an effort to set a Guinness World Record for the most people to take a swimming lesson at the same time. The current record is 3,971 participants.
Aquatic Service Manager Allison Zuchowski said she was thrilled with the turnout in Christiansburg, especially since this was the center’s first year of hosting the event.
The lesson began around the world at 11 a.m. EST, and groups followed a uniform 30-minute agenda, which included breathing techniques, floating skills, basic swimming strokes and general elements of pool safety.
In accordance with Guinness World Record guidelines, each of the event’s hosting sites was required to have two official witnesses. Playing the role in Christiansburg on Thursday were Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg, and Aquatic Center Advisory Board member Shirley Hallock.
Both witnesses said they felt it was very important to promote swim lessons for children.
Rush added that drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country and that all of his three children had been or are currently involved in swim lessons.
Hallock said she felt it was important for children to learn to swim early to avoid becoming fearful of water later in life.
The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson organization would likely agree with Hallock, as their website states that research shows if children don’t learn to swim by the third grade, they likely never will.
Of course, safety isn’t the only benefit of learning to swim, as Virginia Tech swimmer Matt Baumler — one of 20 Tech swimmers helping lead the event — pointed out.
Baumler said he was thankful his mom tossed him into a pool at 5 years old because of all the doors it had opened up for him.
He said he believes the same good fortune could follow any of the day’s learners.
Tech swimming assistant coach Aaron Bell agreed and added that swimming lessons really are the foundation of what can become a lifelong activity.
Six-year-old participant Cassie Bishop added yet another item to the list of benefits — it’s fun.
“I like learning to swim,” she said.
She added that blowing bubbles during the breathing exercises was her favorite part.
However, this wasn’t Cassie’s first lesson.
In fact, she was simply using it as a warm-up before participating in her very first swim meet later that evening.
No matter what their personal reason for attending was Thursday, each of the participants shared the common goal of leaving their mark in the Guinness Book of World Records.
As of Friday afternoon, however, the final numbers were yet to be finalized.
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