The Garden City Telegram
6/19/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Big lesson

Swimming event emphasizes the need for life-saving skill.

Garden City's Big Pool was part of a big record last year, and should accomplish the same this year.

Nearly 60 swimmers and lifeguards descended on the popular venue Tuesday in a quest to eclipse the record set last year for "The World's Largest Swimming Lesson."

Last year, the Garden City pool was among more than 700 pools worldwide involved in a collective attempt to establish a new Guinness World Record. Local swimmers helped the worldwide team set the record when nearly 25,000 youngsters and adults joined simultaneously in swim lessons across the globe.

Of course, the latest world-record attempt taking place in Garden City and beyond was more than just something fun to do on a spring day.

Tuesday's event also helped drive home the importance of learning how to swim and stay safe in the water.

About 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, two are children age 14 or younger.

Drowning is preventable, but remains the leading cause of injury-related death for children age 1 to 5. For older children and teens, it's the second leading cause of death behind motor vehicle accidents.

Children and adults come into contact with water in many ways, from bath tubs to swimming pools to lakes and other bodies of water. People of all ages need to be confident in and around the water.

Just as we know to use seat belts and safety seats for youngsters while in motor vehicles, we also need to be equipped with the potentially life-saving skill of swimming.

Tuesday's event offered an opportunity to gain more swimming skills in a fun environment and in an unusual situation, considering another world record was at stake. Everyone who participated received a certificate for their part in the shot at the record.

But that doesn't mean anyone who didn't join in Tuesday missed out on the most important element of the day — staying safe in the water.

Swim lessons, after all, are available year-round at various recreational outlets. More people should take advantage.