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Miami-Dade pools participate in World's Largest Swimming Lesson to prevent child drownings

Miami-Dade participates in world record for largest swimming class, promote water safety
Miami-Dade participates in world record for largest swimming class, promote water safety 02:08

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County participated Thursday in the Guinness Book of World Records' World's Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL), an annual event uniting aquatics facilities from around the world to raise awareness about the critical need for water safety education and swimming lessons to prevent drownings.  

Leo Fletcher didn't learn how to swim until 5th grade, so he's getting his 2-year-old granddaughter Destiny in the water early. 

"Hopefully, she will get to where she's very comfortable in the water," Fletcher said. "She's doing good right now." 

Destiny will be 3 in a few weeks. Fletcher hopes that doing it with grandpa makes it fun. 

"Even if something happens to her she will be able to get out of the water and take care of herself," Fletcher said.

Fletcher is at Oak Grove Park, which is one of four Miami-Dade County parks that are participating in the world's largest swimming lesson. It's an annual event where swimming instructors around the world try to teach as many people as possible how to swim. 

Florida was first the nation in child drownings last year, and Miami-Dade County leads the state in drownings and at two years old, Destiny is in the most vulnerable age range.

"The highest risk for drowning is age one to four," said Jim O'Connor of Miami-Dade Parks. "And that's where the parent doesn't really expect the child to be in the water. They leave a door open and the child wanders into their backyard pool." 

Leo knows Destiny is just getting the feel for the water, and he has signs that she is eager to learn more. 

"I wanna go in the water. I wanna go in the water," Destiny said.

"Ok we'll go," Fletcher said.

After the lessons, Miami-Dade County and other swimming lesson venues will send the number of people who signed up to the Guinness Book of World Records. 

According to their website, the world record for the largest swimming lesson in multiple locations is 36,564 people at 480 locations in 22 different countries.

County officials said studies show that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.  

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