The aquatic staff at Powell Wellness Center dove in Thursday, June 20, to participate in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. Held from noon to 1p, the facility was one of hundreds of locations in over twenty countries that participated in the event. Open to the public, over a dozen youth participated this year, some learning basic swimming skills they’ve never had the opportunity to learn.
Held for the first time in 2010, the goal of the WLSL event is to prevent drowning by teaching children and adults basic swimming skills. The website, www.wlsl.org, states that 278.000 children and adults have participated in the WLSL event since it began. Organizing the event at the Wellness Center this year, Aquatic Director, Stacey Aucoin was hoping more participants showed up. “This turned out well,” said Aucoin poolside during the event. “I hope next year will be even better,” she said.
Jennie Hinkamp attended this year, with her two boys, for the first time. Two years ago, she helped with the event as a lifeguard at the Wellness Center. “They are having fun,” she said as she watched one of her sons swim after his rubber duck that he threw out in front of him just moments earlier. As a lifeguard, and a parent, Hinkamp understands the importance of swimming as a life saving skill and said it’s a vital skill to prevent drowning. Both of her boys, ages seven and nine, are swimming for the Barracudas swim team in Culpeper this year.
During Thursday’s one-hour event, participants circulated through three different stations to focus on different aquatic skills. In the lap lanes, swim instructor Spencer Buttenshaw, focused on basic swim skills. There was fun to be had in the river where participants chased rubber duckies and then propelled them through the current using water force instead of physical touch. In an outer pool pocket Aucoin and swim instructor, Peggy Young, enforced water safety.
Through a study in 2014, the American Red Cross, www.redcross.org, found that more than half (56 percent) of Americans can’t swim. Their site also states that an average of ten people drown every day. Aucoin is looking forward to drawing more people to Powell Wellness for the WLSL event next year, children and youth alike, to educate and equip more people in Culpeper.