Rec centers join world-record swim attempt

Youngsters associated with the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department's summer programs, suited up on Tuesday and hit the water, along with thousands of fellow participants around the globe, in an attempt to break a Guinness world record.

The world-wide event, called, "The Worlds Largest Swim Lesson," was being staged simultaneously at thousands of venues around the world.

"This is going on in six different continents, all across the world, and in many, many countries, so we just thought we would be a part of it as well," said Justin Blanton, aquatics coordinator for Clayton County's International Park and Beach.

"The Worlds Largest Swim Lesson" is an international Guinness World Record event that aims to focus attention on the importance of teaching kids how to swim, with the hope of setting a new world record in the process.

"We thought this would be cool, and the kids would enjoy being a part of something like this," said Blanton. "The record to break, this year, is 25,000."

He said an event like this is vital, because it pushes the importance of water safety, and that children need to know how serious it is to be safe while enjoying summer sports and recreational activities that revolve around water.

"I hope to promote swim lessons, and that everyone knows how important swim lessons are, and that swim lessons save lives," he added.

Ninety young people participated in the local one-day event, Tuesday. They ranged in age, from 5 years old, to 13. "Most of the youths were already enrolled in the summer camp program, and regular swim lesson classes," said Blanton.

The 90 participants, he said, were spread among three Clayton County recreation centers: the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, in Rex; the Virginia Burton Gray Recreation Center, in Riverdale; and the Jim Huie Recreation Center, in Jonesboro.

To ensure safety during the world-record attempt, six life guards were positioned at each location, along with three water safety instructors.

Blanton said he hopes Clayton County recreation centers and local youngsters will join in the event again next year.

"It's only one day out of the year," he said, "and youths, today, need to know how to swim, and how to be safe."

He added that, in order for the Clayton County group to get proper credit for its efforts on Tuesday, eye witnesses must submit a letter to Guinness World Records representatives, within two hours of the close of the event.