LA MIRADA ( — Former Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans was joined by hundreds of swimmers of all ages Friday in La Mirada to take part in a nationwide effort to set a new world record for the largest swim lesson.

The event held at Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center drew about 400 participants to help set the fifth consecutive Guinness world record for the largest swim lesson – topping the 32,450 in attendance nationwide that set the record last year, according to World’s Largest Swim Lesson spokesperson Kristin Scheithauer.

Created by the World Waterpark Association, the lesson was developed by a team of leading water safety and swim instruction professionals. All aquatic facilities participating in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson are required to teach the same curriculum at the same time for the duration of the 30-minute lesson, according to the group’s website.

“It is really fun,” said participant Emma. “My favorite part is when we swim on our backs and pretend we are starfishes.”

Evans told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the aim of the annual synchronized event – which was marked at about 90 sites throughout California – to try to prevent childhood drownings.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death behind car accidents for children under the age of five, which is why Evans said parents should start as early as possible.

“What I’ve found…is the kids that get put in younger, as they get older they progress quicker and they’re not fearful of the water,” she said. “You see the five- and six-year-olds try to go in the pool, and they’re a little bit scared ’cause they’re old enough to realize maybe this is something they should be scared of.”

Evans graduated from El Dorado High School in Placentia and went on to win four gold medals and break seven world records.


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