[CHARLESTON COUNTY] – On Friday, June 24, 2016, tens of thousands of kids and adults at aquatic facilities around the world united for the seventh year in a row in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record™. The global record attempt for The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ (WLSL) took place at an estimated 500 locations over the course of 24 hours on June 24. The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) participated by offering special one-time swimming lessons at this time to over 100 registered summer camp participants at area waterparks.
In Charleston County, official Host Location Facilities for the WLSL event included Splash Island Waterpark in Mount Pleasant, Splash Zone Waterpark on James Island, and Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark in North Charleston. Select children participating in CCPRC summer camps took part in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim.
Since its inception, more than 155,000 children and adults have participated in WLSL lessons, generating more than half a billion media impressions about the vital importance of learning to swim. The 2015 WLSL event included 38,170 participants from 22 countries. The national WLSL organization will collect records and photography from all organizations who participated in the 2016 event, for submission later this summer to the Guinness World Record™ organization for review to determine if a new record was in fact set.
Tragically, drowning remains the leading cause of unintended, injury related death for children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause of accidental death for children under 14. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4, yet many kids do not receive formal swimming or water safety training. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson™ was created to serve as a platform to help local community aquatic facilities and the many different national, regional and state wide water safety and drowning prevention organizations work together to tell this important story on a local and national level.
CCPRC encourages Lowcountry residents to visit SwimSafeLowcountry.com for information about accessible and affordable swimming lessons and water safety instruction in the area, offered on a year-round basis. While CCPRC does not offer formal public swimming lessons, the organization does operate a portable swimming pool in which Odyssey Summer Campers at CCPRC sites in McClellanville, Johns Island, and Hollywood all learn basic swimming skills each summer. CCPRC's non-profit partner, The Parklands Foundation, also raises funds through The Genesis Project to build permanent swimming pools in these three areas, which currently do not have public pools easily accessible for swimming lessons. Jennifer Holmes, the mother of drowning victim and Genesis Project namesake Genesis Holmes, was on hand at Splash Island June 24 to watch the lesson with her nephew, who participated.
For more information on The Genesis Project and how to help build pools in rural Charleston County, visit TheParklandsFoundation.org. For more information about The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ visit WLSL.org.