Global goes local: Snowmass kids swim for Guinness world record
Close to 30 youngsters arrived at the Snowmass Recreation Center on June 18 with their bathing suits, towels and goggles. In more than 700 locations around the globe, tens of thousands of other kids did the same. Holding a Guinness world record for the largest swim lesson in the world, the nation’s top water safety and training organizations joined forces once again to present the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” in an effort to build national, regional and statewide awareness about the vital importance of teaching children how to swim to prevent drowning.
Uniting in the cause for the first time ever and working to achieve a fourth Guinness world record, the rec center, with the help of four swim instructors, hosted the event as kids splashed and flutter-kicked their way through an hour-long lesson that concluded with a prize ceremony of locally donated gifts — from T-shirts and free pizza to a grand prize of two private swim lessons.
Taking the opportunity to witness the lesson firsthand and snap some photos of local kids swimming for the global record, I stole some time with Kim Baillargeon, two-year swim instructor at the rec center and lead coordinator of the event.
Snowmass Sun: How did you come across the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson,” and what sparked your interest in hosting it at the rec center?
Kim Baillargeon: As a member of the local Buddy Program, my 10-year-old little buddy Lupita and I were brainstorming ideas for a local event that would benefit the community in some way. Brian Passenti, who heads the aquatics at the rec center and is a member of the World Waterpark Association, suggested the idea of the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.” Knowing that drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death of children ages 1 to 14, and having the rec center’s pool to our leisure, we found the idea to be perfect.
SS: How did you and Brian go about signing up for the event? Were there any costs involved for you or participants?
KB: We completed a registration form online, and yes, there was a small hosting fee involved that the rec center helped cover. The lesson itself was free to all kids who signed up, and in order to qualify we were required to have at least 25 participants. Because we were working towards a world record, we had to teach the same curriculum at the same time for the duration of the lesson.
SS: What all did the lesson’s curriculum entail?
KB: The curriculum was part of a five-station rotation developed by a team of leading water-safety and swim-instruction professionals that followed an easy, beginner lesson plan to allow for the broadest participation possible. The stations included: water-safety awareness, safe water entry, breathing/submerging, floating and stroke-component skills.
SS: What in your opinion is the most beneficial aspect of teaching and hosting such a global event on a local level?
KB: Most beneficial is having the opportunity to bring water safety awareness to the community, and to teach kids and parents alike that swim lessons help save lives. Equally beneficial and exciting is the fact that us along with thousands of other kids in four separate continents were all simultaneously working towards the same goal.
SS: After what appeared to be a very successful day, what are your plans when it comes to hosting the event in the years to come?
KM: As long as the rec center is available to us, I would love to continue this event for years to come. All of us here at the pool understand the importance of teaching kids how to swim, and if we can grow awareness and provide children with the means for practicing water safety while giving them a free lesson along the way, I will always support it.
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.