Seventy-four youngsters waited under the pavilion at the Pine Island Pool Thursday for the clock to strike 11 a.m. to participate in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson, an attempt to break the Guinness World Record.
The event's message, "Swimming lessons saves lives," brings awareness to the prevention of drowning.
The first World's Largest Swimming Lesson was held in 2010 with 4,000 youngsters participating in the event. Last year, the event increased to 20,000 participants representing 13 countries around the globe and 45 states.
One by one the youngsters jumped feet first into the Pine Island Pool during the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson Thursday, which was held to save lives and teach kids how to swim.
Aquatic Senior Supervisor Nancy Apperson said they decided to take a part in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson this year at the four year-round pools in Lee County because of the importance of the message.
"We just want to get the word out, educate the public and teach kids to swim to reduce the number of deaths that occur from drowning," Apperson said.
She said the lesson was to raise awareness to people of the importance of learning to swim and using layers of protection barriers like pool alarms to prevent the leading cause of death - drowning.
On average, 69 youngsters drown a year in Florida.
Before all the youngsters jumped off the ledge of the pool one by one Thursday in front of one of the four instructors, Senior Recreational Specialist Kory Herrin went over some rules of the pool to ensure everyone knew the safety measures to be taken. Some of the kids who raised their hand shared that there is no running, pushing or diving in the shallow end of the pool.
Herrin then asked the youngsters what they thought identifies a lifeguard. Again the children shared by raising their hand with answers - wearing a red hat and bathing suit.
Other safety measures of the pool were also discussed for 10 minutes before they entered the pool feet first. Herrin talked about the big red tube and what one long whistle meant to the kids.
The shepherd's hook was also discussed in detail. Herrin said the hook is a reach and assist tool for adults to use. She said if someone in the water is in trouble and a mom and dad see it, they could use the hook to grab a hold of someone and bring them to safety.
The youngsters knew what the ring buoy was used for when asked by Herrin. They said it was used to thrown in the pool, to give an individual an opportunity to grab a hold of the rope, so they can be pulled to safety.
The importance of sunscreen was also discussed Thursday morning. Herrin said sunscreen is very important and it should be applied three times or more if at the pool for eight hours a day.
After 10 minutes of safety discussions, the kids were divided into three groups and sent to three different sides of the pool. One by one the kids jumped into the water feet first in front of one of the instructors.
Different swimming techniques were then practiced with an instructor within arms reach. The kids practiced how to blow bubbles, hold their entire face under water with eyes closed and open, bob up and down, touch the bottom of the pool with hands and feet, along with breathing and swimming techniques.
After the swimming lesson was completed, the youngsters exited the pool and enjoyed suckers and ice pops while a certificate was handed out to each child for participating in the World's Largest Swimming Lesion.
"I think it went smoothly, a lot better than expected for our first year," Herrin said after the lesson was completed.
With the instructors included, there were 78 individuals who took part in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson Thursday at the Pine Island Pool, which will be included in the attempt to break the Guinness World Record.
Herrin said the event was made possible because of her staff members.
"We work as a team and not an individual," she said.