Thursday, June 21, 2012

Worldwide record attempt highlights water safety

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GEARING UP—Addison Armstrong, 5, of Moorpark, gets help from swimming instructor Allison Carroll before taking part in the World’s Largest Swim Class at Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks on June 14. Thousand of swimmers at aquatics facilities around the world took part to encourage parents to teach children to swim and prevent drowning. 
Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers GEARING UP—Addison Armstrong, 5, of Moorpark, gets help from swimming instructor Allison Carroll before taking part in the World’s Largest Swim Class at Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks on June 14. Thousand of swimmers at aquatics facilities around the world took part to encourage parents to teach children to swim and prevent drowning. Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers
By Dashiell Young-Saver
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from 2005 to 2009 an average of 3,533 Americans died annually due to drowning. The highest rate is among children ages 1 to 4.
Drowning remains one of the largest causes of accidental injury deaths of children under age 14.
In order to raise awareness about water safety and the importance of learning to swim, Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks participated in the 2012 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on June 14.
The school-hosted lesson was held simultaneously with other swimming schools, facilities and partners around the globe. The international effort hoped to break the Guinness World Record set by last year’s event, which had more than 20,000 participants from 13 countries.


GETTING THE BASICS— Claire Daland, 8, of Thousand Oaks, swims the backstroke during a lesson at the center. Claire is the daughter of Peter Daland, head swim coach. GETTING THE BASICS— Claire Daland, 8, of Thousand Oaks, swims the backstroke during a lesson at the center. Claire is the daughter of Peter Daland, head swim coach.“It raises awareness in the community of the importance of water safety, and it’s a good reward for the students who are working really hard all year long,” said longtime Daland swim instructor Jessica Proctor.
Proctor has been a swim coach at Daland since 2003 and was one of 11 coaches participating in the event.
“It’s also another opportunity for (the students) to show off all the skills they have learned in their lessons,” she said.
While the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson is still calculating the scale of the global effort and the success of the record attempt, Daland Swim School said it had twice as many participants as the previous year.

GETTING THEIR KICKS—Swim instructor Taylor Walker gets splashed by her students—Camilla Gralton, Bailey Stubblefield, Chole Daland, Claire Daland and Reyna James, during a lesson last Thursday at Daland Swim School. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers GETTING THEIR KICKS—Swim instructor Taylor Walker gets splashed by her students—Camilla Gralton, Bailey Stubblefield, Chole Daland, Claire Daland and Reyna James, during a lesson last Thursday at Daland Swim School. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn NewspapersSixty-four swimmers, ranging in age from 3 to 87, participated in the Daland swim lesson this year. Most were Daland students around age 10, but some swimmers came from outside the school to participate.
“We wanted to open the event up to everyone . . . because swimming is a lot of fun and something you can do your entire life,” said the school’s owner, Leslie Daland- James.
The lesson lasted 30 minutes and followed a procedure set by various national organizations. Participants signed in and received swimming safety tips, special wristbands and washable tattoos before going in the water.
After performing several exercises and strokes together in groups, the students received accolades from spectators as well as free doughnuts.
Later they will receive individual certificates attesting to their part in the world record attempt.
“(The children) are very excited about the event because they are really into the Guinness Book of World Records and would love to be record holders,” parent Julianne Henry said.
The mother of two young students (Sean and Connor) at the school, Henry used to be a competitive collegiate swimmer.
“Swimming is a lifelong activity, and the event is an exciting and fun thing for the kids over summer vacation,” she said.
To make sure that parents had information about drowning, the school sent envelopes stuffed with swimming safety tips to families of students participating in the event. Parents also listened to safety procedures before watching their children swim.
“Using the event to bring awareness to drowning is really important because so many adults think it will happen to somebody else’s children,” said Sheralee Connors, mother of two.
Connors’older daughter, Genevieve, nearly drowned at a pool party at the age of 4 when she wandered away from adult supervision and into a pool. Her father jumped in, fully clothed, to rescue her.
After the incident, Genevieve was enrolled in Daland Swim School and has been taking swim lessons for about a year. Now 5, she’s a proficient swimmer.
“I have no doubt now that if she were to fall into a pool, she would be able to swim to the side and be okay,” Connors said.
For Daland-James, preventing drowning and near-drowning incidents is the main goal and most rewarding part of the event.
“Learning how to swim is going to save your life,” she said.

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