Fort Sam Houston swimmers jump into the record books
June 23, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- With room to spare in the Olympic-size Fort Sam Houston pool and in 100-degree heat, 97 children, eight instructors and three life guards swam, splashed and kicked their way into the Guinness Book of World Records June 14.
“It was pretty crazy. There were a lot of kids,” said Cory Sheaffer, one of the Fort Sam Houston Aquatic Center lifeguards who kept watch over the record-breaking event.
The children jumped into the Aquatic Center pool at the same time as several thousand other children worldwide who were part of the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” and, just as importantly, young ambassadors for the importance of learning to swim at an early age.
“They were just ecstatic about it,” said Amanda Ballew, Aquatic Center Recreation Assistant who organized the event at Fort Sam Houston.
“I was really excited about the idea, because it emphasizes the importance of teaching children to swim,” Ballew added. “It’s a great reminder for parents and children about water safety.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.
Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
On Fort Sam Houston, the message that learning to swim and being safe around water rippled through the pool as children learned to glide through the water and to flip on their back to call for help.
The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson serves as a platform to help local community aquatic facilities and the many national, regional and statewide water safety and drowning prevention organizations work together to tell their story on a local and national level.
There are still some slots available for swim lessons at the Aquatic Center, as the Fort Sam Houston community continues to work toward a safe summer for everyone.