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Swimming safety stressed
Katie Glendenning helps son, Shawn, 3, during the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on Tuesday at the Forsyth County Family YMCA. Splash Week ran through Friday at the facility. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Kids and parents alike took part in a free swimming event Tuesday at the Forsyth County Family YMCA.

The facility was one of many around the globe participating in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, an effort to reclaim the Guinness Book of World Record’s title.

In order to record their numbers as part of the worldwide event, the local facility had to have at least 25 people take part in the swimming lesson at 11 a.m.

“We just made it with right at 25 people,” said Deborah Kelly, associate aquatics director at the Y.

This was the first year the local facility took part, but it won’t be the last, Kelly said.

“We want to get the word out a little sooner next year so we can hopefully have more participation,” she said.

Kelly added that it will be “a few weeks” before the overall numbers from around the world are tallied to let organizers know if the record was broken. In 2012, it drew more than 20,000 participants at some 300 facilities.

Participation in the Guinness Book of World Record’s effort is part of a weeklong series of free swimming lessons for children offered by the local YMCA.

Dubbed Splash Week, Kelly said about a dozen children ages 3 to 12 signed up to take part in the free lessons.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to grow that number a lot for next year,” she said.

Nancy Neilsen brought her son, Joey, also 3, to the lessons.

“He’s taken swim lessons since he was 3 months old here at the Y, so he’s very excited about today,” she said.

Ivan Zeitlin signed 4-year-old daughter Scout up for Splash Week lessons.

“So far, I’ve been the one teaching her how to swim and I’m not an expert,” he said. “She’s been loving it.”

While her 3-year-old son, Shawn, takes lessons at a different YMCA location, Katie Glendenning brought him to the world record effort.

“I wanted to get in the pool with him and have some mommy-baby time,” she said, noting that learning to become comfortable with the water at an early age is important to her as a mom.

“In my opinion, [swimming lessons] are as important as school,” she said. “They literally will save your life.”