Swim instructors aim for world record
by Bob Brownne
Jun 20, 2013 | 2196 views | 0 0 comments | 116 116 recommendations | email to a friend | print
World record swim lesson attempt
Lucy Schermesser (left) instructs several swimmers on how to tread water without using their hands. The group had gathered at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 18, at Pinkie Phillips Aquatics Center at West High School for The World’s Largest Swim Lesson. The event drew 135 swimmers from the local YMCA and the Tracy Tritons and Ellis Aquatics swim teams, and attempted to top the 2012 mark of 24,873 people taking lessons at the same time.  Bob Brownne/Tracy Press
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Early-morning swim lessons at the Pinkie Phillips Aquatics Center at West High looked like a regular day Tuesday, June 18, but it might have been the scene of a world record.

Dozens of boys and girls were part of an attempt to have the most children ever taking swimming lessons at the same time worldwide.

Jenni Payton, who supervises the YMCA of San Joaquin County aquatics program in Tracy, said groups in several countries took part.

“Anybody in the world taking part in lessons goes toward the record,” Payton said.

She counted, and verified, 135 swimming lessons at the Pinkie Phillips Aquatics Center on Tuesday, including YMCA classes and members of the Ellis Aquatics and Tracy Tritons swim teams who were practicing in the pool.

“We count everybody who’s in the water,” Payton said. “The teams are having lessons as they’re being coached.”

Hundreds of organizations joined in The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson — an effort that promotes water safety by encouraging more children to learn how to swim.

Payton said 30 swimmers were signed up for YMCA lessons on Tuesday as part of the two-month summertime program at West High. She usually has 10 instructors on hand but scheduled five more for Tuesday morning to accommodate as many as 50 swimmers.

“We’re overstaffed, so if we get more, we can teach them as well,” she said.

Five extra swimmers paid the $2 drop-in fee for a 30-minute session Tuesday, hoping to claim their place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Linda Ryza expected that her granddaughter, Gracey Smith, 9, would be part of a big crowd in the pool. They got to the pool early, though, so Gracey got some one-on-one lessons with instructor Ian Hutton before the other children arrived.

“She hasn’t had swim lessons for a while,” Ryza said. “I think they’re really helping her on different strokes.”

Hutton, one of several instructors who started work last week, eventually had four children in his group. He said it was his first time with the young swimmers, but they had obviously taken lessons.

“I really liked them, though,” he said. “They’re pretty good for their level.”

Payton said it will take a few months for organizers of The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson to compile all of the numbers and find out exactly how many swimmers participated worldwide.

The program, now in its fourth year, recorded 4,315 swimmers simultaneous taking lessons in 2010 and claimed a new Guinness World Record with 19,322 swimmers in 2011. That feat included swimmers in 235 venues, mostly in the U.S., but also in South America, Europe and Japan.

The record stands at 24,873 swimmers, set in 2012. Organizers anticipated 35,000 swimmers this year.

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.
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