Two of Cape Coral's busiest swimming pools tried to do their part to help get into the Guinness Book of World Records Tuesday while raising swimming awareness.
The pools at Sun Splash and the Cape Coral Yacht Club held mass swim lessons at 11 a.m. in an attempt to break the record for the largest simultaneous swim lesson, set last year when 24,873 took part.
And while part of it was a stunt to get into the record books, there was the more important message being taught regarding water safety.
There was no better place to teach it than Sun Splash, the water amusement park which has had an unbeatable reputation in emphasizing safety first.
"We did it last year and it was a big draw and it's a quality thing to do to get the word out that swim lessons save lives," said Sun Splash aquatic supervisor Tony Marzullo. "It's a lot of fun, but it's a structured lesson. We have official witnesses and people have to sign in."
With the heat and the fact there were rides for the kids to go on, about 35 took part, only about half from last year. But many of the kids had a good time as lead lifeguard Jason King and volunteer life guards put the kids through the basics.
Before they got in the water, King taught them how to enter the pool safely and how to rescue someone from drowning by having them throw tubes and other floatables to the "victim."
King also taught the feet first method of entering the pool, bobbing, retrieval of items in the bottom of the pool and floating, all in the name of safety.
The numbers for drowning among children are staggering.
"The main message is swim lessons save lives. It is the No. 2 cause of accidental, injury-related deaths for children ages 1 to 14, and No. 1 for children 1 to 5," King said. "It's tons of fun. And every one had a blast with an event that has a message behind it."
Also, formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 by 88 percent, yet many don't receive that formal training.
That greatly reduced the odds of Elijah Washington, 2, whose mother, Rebecca, took him for his first lesson and had a blast.
"It was really a lot of fun. We've been so excited since last night. He says he wants to be a lifeguard," said Rebecca, of Cape Coral by way of England. "It teaches the way kids can stay safe and have fun at the same time."
At the Yacht Club, the numbers were way up. It had 77 swimmers, up from last year's 40, which made Mary Beth Pazoggi, the Yacht Club's aquatics supervisor, very happy.
"We had a good crowd, the kids took part and we had a good time," Pazoggi said. "It was great to teach them survival skills. Now, they know what to do and not panic."
North Fort Myers, Lehigh and Pine Island pools also took part in the event, which provided a clear message to swimmers of all ages.
"Anything that can bring attention to water awareness to the community is a good thing," said Sun Splash manager Sandra Greiner. "There are many drowning in private pools every year so being able to teach somebody to stay afloat is always great."