Water Safety Stressed Ahead of World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

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ALTOONA, Iowa – Playing at the pool can be stressful for parents, especially if their kids aren't strong swimmers. Some local organizations want to make sure families have fun in the sun safely.

"Water can be your best friend. It can also be your worst enemy," said Lonnie Wenthe, Altoona Aquatics Park associate aquatics director.

That's why Wenthe said it's important people learn to swim.

"Get your kids into swim lessons. Everyone needs to know how to swim, whether they're 2 to 3-years-old or older people," he said.

The Altoona Aquatics Park is hosting activities for Iowa Water Safety Week.

It wraps up with the world's largest swimming lesson in conjunction with Safe Kids Greater Des Moines at Blank Children's Hospital.

“Friday, June 24th at 1:30 p.m., we are going to be doing our fifth year of participation in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson," said Janna Day, coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Des Moines.

Last year, 235 people participated. Organizers want at least 250 people this year. Lifeguards watch as instructors lead the kids through a series of activities.

"They will be able to walk through everything from getting into the pool, to blowing bubbles in the pool to learning how to kick their legs," Day said.

Organizers want to get as many people as possible out for the World's Largest Swimming Lesson, and the ultimate goal is to get families to continue those formal lessons.

"Unfortunately, drowning is the second leading cause of injury/death for kids between the ages of 1 and 4. And, so we know that formal swimming lessons can actually decrease that risk in kids in that age group," Day said.

Parents should also provide supervision anytime kids are around water.

"Always keep an eye on your kids around water. The lifeguards are not your babysitters," Wenthe said. "You know your children better than we do. You know their skills. You know how they act, if they're wild and crazy, so you need to keep an eye on them."

Alexis Morrow signed up both her kids for swimming lessons.

"They're so helpless when you're out there, especially with multiple children. It's nice for them to learn how to swim," she said.

The World's Largest Swimming Lesson is Friday, June 24 at the Altoona Aquatics Park. Facilities around the world will also participate that day. It starts at 1:30 o.m., but organizers say you should get there early to sign up.

You'll have to pay the cost of admission, but then you can swim at the aquatics park the rest of the day.

Google Map for coordinates 41.638958 by -93.475759.

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