Gulfport kids join in world's largest swimming lesson

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of children at waterparks all over the world attempted to break a Guinness World Record for the World's Largest Swimming Lesson Tuesday. More than a hundred children were part of the fun at Gulf Islands Waterpark in Gulfport.

"It's happening all over the world. Probably five different continents no telling how many countries," saidGulf Island Waterpark General Manager Mark Moore.

In the U.S. alone, more than 200 waterparks simultaneously offered the free introduction to the water. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of support to pull off a grand scale project like this.

"It's organized, really, through a number of people. World Waterpark Association, Jeff Ellis and Associates, American Red Cross, are just three of maybe 20 sponsors who are strong supporters of swim lessons for children across the nation."

Organizers said the worldwide swimming lesson is even more important because accidental drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death for children.

"If kids don't learn how to swim by third grade, it's likely that they never will, and that's a big deal for us here," said instructor Emily Hagin. "Which is why we place a big role on our lifeguards to promote safety, and so we thought it was great to participate and get the community involved."

"Knowing how to swim is really a life skill," Moore said. "It's a basic skill. You never know when you'll need to call upon it. Clearly not everyone needs to be Michael Phelps, but knowing some basics and knowing how to be safe around the water is good for everyone."

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