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Local kids part of Worlds Largest Swimming Lesson
103 Hall County children participated in the worldwide event
A lifeguard at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center watches children participate in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson Tuesday morning. The event is part of a worldwide initiative to promote water safety.

Thousands of kids across the world took to the water at exactly 11 a.m. Tuesday, dog paddling, backstroking and bubble-blowing their way to a new world record.

Some 103 Hall County children participated in the worldwide event and will go down in history as part of the largest simultaneous swimming lesson ever held.

In 2010, World's Largest Swimming Lesson held a similar event. Almost 4,000 participated across 34 states, five countries and three continents, according to a news release.

The Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center participated both years, offering a day of free swimming lessons to children ages 6 to 12.

"I think it's a great idea," aquatics manager Meghan Hill said. "It promotes swim lessons, and it promotes pool safety at the same time."

In a county ripe with lakes, rivers and aquatic attractions, Hill said it's especially important Hall County children know how to swim.

"Drowning is the second leading cause of unintended injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14," she said.

"So (the program) helps get children adjusted to the water so we don't have a drowning later on. ... If their parents don't put them in swim lessons when they're a kid, normally when they get to the adult age, they don't go back and learn how to swim."

As the children sat with towels over shoulders and goggles around their necks, many seemed eager to not only get in the water, but the record books as well.

"My son's excited," Shaey Marvin said. "He's always wanted to break a record of some kind."

Ken Harmon normally works at the Hall County Sheriff's Office, but was on hand Tuesday to make sure there wasn't any funny business.

Witnesses at each lesson location will submit verified forms so a total count can be calculated, Harmon said.

"It's so easy to lie and fake things, and I think it's important to be able to show the integrity of (the record)," he said.

"It's a legitimate thing. It's being done by Guinness World Records. Growing up as a kid, that was it. That's what you wanted to be a part of."