I can't speak for other swimming pools around the world, but Thursday was a beautiful day to enter the Guinness Book of World Records at the Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool in Youngsville.
Pool manager Jayda Haight had 74 other people and me line up against the edge of the water in the shallow end, where we were instructed to sit on our butts, but to not under any circumstances enter the water.
If we were going to help break the record for the world's largest swimming lesson, we would have to do it right, and Haight had spent nearly a month organizing the event.
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
A group of children and adults at Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool joined a game of Red Light, Green Light during the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson” on Thursday. Swimmers in pools worldwide joined the “lesson.”
"We needed to have 25, expected 50, and got 75," she said of the number of participants.
The Warren County YMCA donated a giant clock used in swimming races and nearly all of the 15 lifeguards who work at the Youngsville pool were on hand to make sure we were all safe. Haight told us how the lesson would run and we sat waiting for the clock to hit exactly 11 a.m.
A whistle blows and as everybody slips in I can hear, "It's freezing!" from more than one child on the other end of the pool. All participants were kept in the two- to four-foot deep section of the pool.
I take my time, breath and the shock of the cold water quickly wears off once I start kicking around a little.
I can see from the faces of the lifeguards who had to get in the water that they were thinking the same thing as the lesson began and the two lifeguards on either end of the pool demonstrated reaching assistance with a flotation device.
Reaching assistance is a odd thing, because it can also involve a rescue pole a tool that's really just a long metal pole that somebody sticks into the water. Someone, somewhere said that's a sufficient device for pool safety that should by no means be surpassed.
Cars can parallel park themselves and my cellphone can have a conversation with me, but people who need assistance and are 12 feet away rely on a metal pole.
After the safety demonstrations, we moved on floating techniques, and I realized somethings have changed.
I last took a swimming lesson when I was about six years old, and we used a particular technique called the "dead man's float" and now for obvious reasons, that's out and now it's called the "turtle". All you do is bring your knees up to your chest and lean forward as you bob up and down in the water. It's a little easier, and probably a lot safer.
Then we moved onto my least favorite thing to do in a pool: floating on my back. I don't have a problem with back floaters, it's just that I always ended up with water in my nose or in my eyes. Maybe my technique is wrong, or maybe I'm not very buoyant. I took a moment to look around the pool and in the two-foot deep end with some of the lifeguards I could see some very small children having a lot of fun.
"It lets them get use to the water," Tawny Crocker, head lifeguard, said after the lesson. "It went real well, better than expected."
For the last few minutes we had free swim and the lifeguard closest to me was repeating a phrase to a child about swimming the breaststroke.
"Chicken, star, rocket!" she said. "Chicken, star, rocket!"
Haight later told me that is a phrase repeated to get children who aren't very interested in swimming to participate and learn the technique.
According to the World's Largest Swimming Lesson website, swimming is a life-saving skills for children and the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children between the ages of one to 14.
"The whole point of the World's Largest Swimming Lesson is to promote safety," Haight said. "It went really well, and they were having fun, which is the second most important thing."
After our half hour was up, Haight said she expected to break last year's record of 20,000 participants worldwide because the number of people registered this year was a 500 percent increase from the year before.
Penny Rex had brought her son Mitchell, Nick Ward and Ben Lindquist to the BVSP to learn to swim, just like she did growing up.
"We've been coming here for a lot of years," she said, adding that the boys will be coming back to the pool for further lessons over the summer.