About 20 youngsters splashed into Taylor Pool to take part in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on June 20.

Payson’s Parks & Recreation Department sponsored the free lesson that is a promotional event designed to build awareness about the vital importance of teaching kids to swim and help prevent drowning.

It’s the 10th Annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson featuring towns around the world participating in the same lesson over the course of a 24-hour period to raise awareness about drowning and the fact that swimming is a vital life-saving skill that every child should learn. The World Waterpark Association sponsors the event.

Research shows risk of drowning can be reduced by 88 percent if children participate in formal swimming lessons between ages 1-4, according to a 2009 report in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

It’s the first year Payson has participated in the event.

“It’s a good platform to promote water safety,” said Payson Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director Courtney Spawn.

“It’s a basic 30-minute curriculum free of charge for people to understand water safety, it’s important and get kids comfortable and learning how to swim.

“Obviously, you can’t teach a kid to swim in 30 minutes, but it’s a great start and builds a solid base so when they’re around water we can make sure they’re practicing safe swimming practices.”

Spawn said about 20 Taylor Pool lifeguards helped teach the lessons.

Payson resident Lori Thompson with the Association of Aquatic Professionals spearheaded the effort to have Payson participate this year.

Last year, 41,814 kids and adults participated in WLSL events in 27 countries generating more than a billion media impressions, according to a press release. Aquatic facilities from Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, Texas to swim schools in India, to locations in Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, the UAE and South Korea, all taught the same swimming lesson with one goal in mind — send the message that swimming lessons save lives.

The World Health Organization estimates drowning is one of the top five causes of death for people ages 1-14 in 48 of the 85 countries it monitors around the globe.

“Swimming is a vital life-saving skill. Drowning is preventable,” according to the press release.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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