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‘World’s Largest Swimming Lesson’ event in Charlotte aims to reduce drowning deaths

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX) — One of the perks of living in Michigan is the plethora of lakes to swim in.

However, so far the swimming season has been deadly. On Thursday, there were 19 drownings in Lake Michigan alone.

Although Michigan is known for its water fun, it’s estimated that about half of adults in Michigan can’t swim well enough to save themselves, let alone a child. An event Thursday at the Charlotte Aquatic Center aims to change that — and it’s causing a stir.

2-year-old Olivia Swift may not be able to kick like the big kids just yet, but that doesn’t stop her from swimming like one. She still needs her mom by her side to cross the pool, but after Thursday’s lesson, she’ll be going solo in no time. It gives Katy Swift peace of mind.

“We have a pond and we have a family that has a pool,” Swift said. “So it’s good for kids to learn the basics of swimming.”

With each lesson, Olivia breaks new boundaries – and Thursday’s lesson breaks lessons. It’s called the “world’s greatest swimming lesson.”

“We have a lot of families here today celebrating water safety in our biggest swimming lesson in the world,” said Julie Davis of the Charlotte Aquatic Center. “We join our voices with those of thousands of people around the world to help prevent drowning.”

Children under four have the highest drowning rate, but adults receive special attention. People between the ages of 45 and 85 are the only age group where the drowning rate has not decreased in recent years.

People of all ages have come to the Charlotte Aquatic Center to learn – the oldest being 75.

“I’m so excited about the age gap. We have so many people from so many different levels identifying and realizing how important it is to stay safe in and around the water,” Davis said.

Even the youngest swimmers have learned essential vital strategies.

“It’s really nice and it makes me a lot more comfortable knowing they know what to do in the water,” Swift said.

After Thursday’s event, another 50 Mid-Michiganders can confidently cannonball.

The biggest swimming lesson in the world started 13 years ago. More than 300,000 people on six continents have taken part since. The event set five Guinness World Records.

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