Memphians join swimmers around the world to prevent drownings

MEMPHIS, Tenn – Inside the Bickford Aquatic Center on Henry Street,  dozens of Memphis children and their instructors gather to make history.

Friday morning around 10 o’clock Memphis time, they teamed up with tens of thousands of swimmers from around the world to simultaneously participate in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson and possibly set a new Guinness World Record.

Diamond Kizer is one of the instructors. She said this lesson wasn’t just about having fun, but also saving lives.

“We are helping the kids learn how to swim and make sure they don’t fall in and drown,” Kizer said.

The swim event was created to spread the word that swimming lessons can mean the difference between life and death.

Destini Booker is an instructor at Bickford.

“Basically, we’re going to teach them to stay out of dangerous situations,” Booker said.

Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children one to four years old.

It’s one reason the organization ‘Splash Mid-South’ was created in Memphis.

Susan Helms is the director of Injury Prevention and Safety at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and co-founder of Splash Mid-South.

“In 2008, two youth drown in city pools on the same day and that being the tragedy that the city couldn’t tolerate any longer,” Helms said.

One of the biggest causes of drownings or near drownings of children is because many have never received formal swimming lessons and many are also left unattended by adults.

“All too often we do see children who come to our hospital because of a drowning or near drowning and the saddest part of all of it that is so many times it could have been prevented,” Helms said.

It’s why this swim lesson could not only set a record, but perhaps influence these children to become lifesavers.

“Then in again when they get older they can teach other kids how to swim and the generations goes on and on,” Kizer said.

This is the fourth year Memphis has participated. The record so far is 32,450 participants representing 13 countries across five continents.

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