It’s not too late to join the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, which will take place Thursday morning at Aquatica, SeaWorld Orlando’s water park. U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member and three-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines will lead the lesson and meet participants.
For the eighth consecutive year, SeaWorld Orlando and its guests will join together with hundreds of aquatic centers, pools and water parks around the globe to attempt to break the world record again. The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson was created to draw attention to the fact that drowning is one of the top five causes of death for children between the ages 1 and 14 and to encourage participation in swimming lesson programs.
Event registration begins at 9 a.m. June 22 at the park’s Big Surf Shores wave pool. The swim lesson will take place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Participants must have their own paid admission into the park and are asked to reserve their spots by emailing [email protected]
My son was a participant in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson at Aquatica two years ago. Although my son swims competitively and doesn’t need basic swim lessons, he wanted to see which skills were required for the 30-minute certified lesson for his age group, 10 and older. Among them were practicing swimming freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke; floating on his back; and streamlining off the wall. The “skill” he liked best, though, was jumping off the elevated side of Big Surf Shores pool, which is not allowed during normal operating hours at Aquatica. That year, 149 children took part.
My son also had the remarkable opportunity to interview Gaines about the importance of learning to swim early in life and how that shaped his life. As a native Floridian, Gaines grew up around water and learned to swim at a young age. However, he didn’t begin swimming competitively until he was 17 — after he tried out for five other sports. “Is there any other sport than swimming?” he asked. “I can’t think of anything!”
Still, he explained that learning to swim is more than just learning a sport, it is vital to children’s safety. He repeatedly said that as soon as kids learn to walk, they should learn to swim. SeaWorld’s press release states that research shows that if children don’t learn to swim before the third grade, they likely never will.
You can see my son’s interview with Gaines below:
Aquatica invited the public to sign up in advance for the attempt to set a new Guinness World Record and also allowed water-park visitors to sign up on the spot. Guests who did so received certificates and rubber bracelets for their efforts. Plus, their names were logged for the official entry should a record be broken.
DISCLAIMER: My son and I were guests of Aquatica for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson in 2015. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.