TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Thursday, kids in the Bay area took part in the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.”
Now in its 13th year, the global event takes place over the course of 24 hours at hundreds of aquatic centers, swim schools and waterparks.
The goal of the event is to spread awareness about swimming safety and how swim lessons can save lives.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintended death for U.S. kids between the ages of 1-4, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Monique Watts learned how quickly it can happen after her son nearly drowned.
“I was at work and my 4-year-old was swimming with my sister and he had a near death experience and so that’s scary,” Watts said. “He was in the one feet and then stepped out too far and that fast.”
Since the scary experience, Watts enrolled her kids in swimming lessons and on Thursday they took part in the Worlds Largest Swimming Lesson.
“Getting familiar with the water, knowing what to do in the water, how to act, how to listen, and just getting familiar and knowing what to do,” Watts said.
Mayor Jane Castor helped kick off the event at the Loretta Ingraham Center and Pool Thursday, one of several locations participating.
“It’s critically important here in the Tampa Bay area to ensure that all of our children know how to swim, because let’s be honest, we’re surrounded with water,” Castor said. “So many of the activities we do involve water. So many people have pools at their homes.”
“We encourage parents to always designate a water watcher. Also, enroll your kids into swimming lessons. We know when kids are enrolled in swimming lessons the risk of drowning goes down by 88%, so that’s huge,” Children’s Board of Hillsborough County Director of Public Relations Dexter Lewis said.