The 29 participants in last month’s attempt to break the World’s Largest Swim Lesson record at the Nikiski Pool are now waiting to see if their efforts paid off.
For the third year in a row, an aquatic crowd convened at the facility, joining swimmers and instructors in 24 countries and in 45 U.S. states for the World Waterpark Association’s annual event, that serves a dual purpose.
“Breaking the record is only one part of the goal,” said Nigel LaRiccia, Nikiski Pool supervisor. “The other part is just to promote water safety and get the word out that swim lessons help save lives and parent supervision helps save lives. Those are the two biggest keys in drowning prevention.”
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children ages 1-14, according to the Waterpark Association.
During the event, LaRiccia and two other instructors went over the basics of safety and pool rules, and how anyone can respond in water-related emergencies, he said. Participants learned how to pull distressed swimmers out of the water “without actually going in to get them,” he said.
Breathing and submerging properly, opening eyes underwater, floating, and stroke techniques were also touched on, LaRiccia said. Infants and adults participated this year, he said.
“Mostly it is for the parents (who come) with real young ones,” LaRiccia said. “We are telling them what lessons are all about, and getting them excited about getting their kid in and continuing that process. For the ones who are a little older, it might be the only time they get formal lesson.”
The swim lesson has become one of the pool staff’s methods of outreach to promote community education about water safety, LaRiccia said.
Nikiski Pool Lifeguard Jeremy Ruggiero also taught during the record attempt, which he said, is a fun way to help swimmers learn in a new, exciting way to make good decisions when in the water.
He said there was a mix of people that showed up, some were there to have fun and some came “looking to get something out of it.”
Ruggiero worked with the younger group, who filled up the kiddie pool, he said.
For the most part things went smoothly, but when working with younger swimmers it is important to incorporate creative ways of communicating instruction to keep their attention and teach them in ways they understand, he said.
Ruggiero went over the importance of wearing lifejackets when boating and the dangers of frigid water.
“Always be aware how quickly it can just zap the energy out of you the most,” he said. “Before you get in a body of water, know how cold it can be.”
The global swim team broke the record last year, LaRiccia said. He said it would be a little time before the results come in for this years attempt.
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