Gainesville Joins Team WLSL Set to Break New World Record


On Friday, June 20 at 11 a.m., thousands of children and adults will unite at aquatics facilities around the globe to set a new global record for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL). The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is joining Team WLSL to once again break a world record and send the message that swimming lessons save lives. The global record attempt will take place at three Gainesville locations: Andrew R. Mickle Pool, Dwight H. Hunter (Northeast) Pool and H. Spurgeon Cherry (Westside) Pool.

Team WLSL holds the current Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson, which stands at 32,450 participants hosted by 432 facilities in 13 countries. The 2013 WLSL event generated a 30 percent increase over 2012’s record of 24,873 participants.

“Our participation is meant to draw attention to a very important message - by teaching children to swim, we are having a real impact on reducing the drowning rate among children,” City of Gainesville Aquatic Leader Michelle Weydert explains. “Our goal is to get the message out to the community that swimming lessons help save lives, while having fun at the same time!”

Tragically, drowning remains the leading cause of unintended injury related death for children age 1-5, and the second leading cause of accidental death for children under 14. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children aged 1-4, yet many children do not receive formal swimming or water safety training.

This year, the World's Largest Swimming Lesson is fortunate to be working with two Olympic gold medal athletes to help build awareness about the event and its purpose. Rowdy Gaines and Janet Evans will help tell the WLSL story through traditional and social media outlets with interviews, updates and on-site appearances during the event on June 20. Both Gaines and Evans will conduct radio and newspaper interviews by phone in advance of the World's Largest Swimming Lesson event. Please email to request an interview. To learn more about the spokespersons, please visit

To participate in this event and be part of history, arrive at 10:45 a.m. (15 minutes before the swimming lesson) at one of the three Gainesville host location facilities: Andrew R. Mickle, Sr. Pool (1717 SE 15th St.) , Dwight H. Hunter (Northeast) Pool (1100 NE 14th St.) or H. Spurgeon Cherry (Westside) Pool (1001 NW 31st Dr.). To learn more about this event, visit, or contact City of Gainesville Athletics Program Coordinator Michelle Weydert at 352-334-5067.