WRJ pool takes part in ‘World’s Largest Swimming Lesson’

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Swimmers around the world Thursday took to the pool for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, and one White River Junction swim center was part of the fun.

It was a fun day at the pool for a group of Upper Valley kids. Thursday was the 13th annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson and the Upper Valley Aquatic Center opened its doors to the public to participate.

“It does promote water safety and that learning to swim saves lives, and I full-heartedly believe in that,” said the center’s Karen Cox.

All throughout the day, groups of 20 took to the pool for a lesson in water safety and swimming, including five-year-old Hawaa Baqi from Lebanon.

“We read about this Largest Swimming Lesson and we were already thinking about getting her lessons for swimming. So we thought, why not take the opportunity, it sounded awesome,” said Hawaa’s father, Yaser. He says they moved to Lebanon from Washington D.C. not long ago. Hawaa has taken swim lessons before, and they’d like her to keep learning. “Since the Upper Valley has so many lakes, so many rivers, we wanted to have the opportunity to swim together all the time... We think that it’s important because we don’t want any kind of accidents happening.”

And despite the entertainment value, Cox says safety is the driving factor when it comes to participating in this event each year. “It’s the one sport that you can literally make a connection with and it saves your life. You just need to be safe around water. Everybody needs to be safe around water,” she said. Cox says they were hoping to top 100 lessons over the course of the day, despite staffing shortages that most pools are seeing right now. “Our goal this year was to teach 104 lessons and I think we might go to 115, 120.”

Because of staffing, the event was open to children only this year, though Cox encourages interested adults to come in to the pool for help, too. “it’s always good to learn some safety skills, learn how to float, learn how to tread. Even if you don’t get to the lap swimming part, it’s still really good to get that experience, she said.

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