Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center in Prince Frederick and the 2018 World's Largest Swimming Lesson
Prince Frederick, MD – There is nothing quite as invigorating as swimming in a pool. However, if you don’t know how to swim being in the water can pose danger. In Calvert County, a jurisdiction surrounded on three sides by substantial bodies of water knowing how to swim could be the difference between having fun and literally being in over your head—a matter of life and death. Fortunately, the county government staffs three pools—outdoor seasonal facilities at Kings Landing in Huntingtown and Cove Point in Lusby; and an indoor, year-round operated pool in Prince Frederick. It is the mission of the pools’ full-and part-time staff to maintain safety and instruct residents on how to swim.

On Thursday, June 21, for the first-time ever, Calvert County participated The World’s Largest Swimming Lessontm”(WLSL)—a global event designed to promote water safety. Unlike even the best swim lessons, the June 21 session was free, plus it gave people of all ages a chance to participate in a worldwide experience. “The WLSL is a global event to raise awareness that swimming lessons can help prevent drowning and save lives,” a county government press release stated.

The lessons as Kings Landing and Cove were held at 10 a.m. The lesson at Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center (ETHAC) began at 6:30 p.m. Calvert Parks and Recreation Aquatics Coordinator Candace Gunn reported prior to the Prince Frederick event that the morning swim lesson had gone very well and staff members were encouraged about the evening segment and the steady number of registrants.

The 30-minute included a general overview of water safety awareness, principals of “safe entry” into the water, submersion and breathing plus air recovery at the surface, and applying basic locomotion and freestyle stroke component skills.

The participants had the benefit of learning from some of the county’s most experienced instructors. Water safety instructor Jane Lacosse has been giving adaptive swim lessons to individuals with special needs at ETHAC for three years. Currently, Lacosse is instructing 30 swimmers on a regular basis. “It’s booming,” said Lacosse of the number of special needs individuals receiving swimming instructions either in groups or individually. Her students include individuals who are autistic, have Down syndrome, learning disabilities and physical disabilities. “I believe that students with disabilities deserve the same opportunities,” said Lacosse, when asked what motivates her to teach swimming. She added, “and I want to save lives.” Lacosse explained that children “are fascinated by water. They are attracted to it so it’s important they learn to swim.” Like WLSL, Lacosse’s lessons are taught in 30-minute segments and some pupils have two sessions a week. “Tonight I just met two more [potential students],” said Lacosse, who added that ETHAC “is a great facility.”

“I absolutely have a passion to turn their fears into success,” said instructor Gaylyn Krenik, who started teaching at Calvert’s aquatics facilities prior to ETHAC’s opening. She stated that approximately 1,000 children and families have received swimming lessons in the years since Calvert expanded its aquatics facilities. “We have people come from Charles and St. Mary’s as well as Calvert,” Krenik told TheBayNet.com. Some of Krenik’s pupils who had to conquer their initial fear of the water are now swimming competitively “and winning,” she added proudly. She called the WLSL event “the best. I’m excited to see where this takes us next year.”

“A year ago I saw this event online,” said swim lesson supervisor Karen Van Duzer. “I started the push to get this [WLSL].” Van Duzer runs the swimming lessons at the Cove Point pool and coaches the swimming team at The Calverton School. “I’m very pleased with the first-time. The crowd seemed to be having a good time.”  

Over 20 facilities in Maryland participated in WLSL this year.

For more information about Calvert County’s swim programs visit the aquatic center web site.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com