40,000 Participants in 18 Countries for the 14th Annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ are Joined by Disney World Resorts, Olympic Medalists and U.S. Marines

Global learn-to-swim event shares water safety education to raise awareness and prevent drowning.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., June 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — TEAM WLSL™, a global team of aquatic facilities and water safety organizations, coordinated by the World Waterpark Association (WWA), kicked off the first official weekend of summer with tens of thousands of kids on six continents all participating in the same global swimming lesson. In addition to sharing critical water safety skills, the lesson helps build awareness about the vital importance of teaching kids to swim to help prevent drowning.

In the U.S., more drowning and near-drowning accidents take place in June and July than any other time period according to the CDC. The upcoming 4th of July holiday also sees an increase in drowning accidents compared to other weeks during the summer.

“Reaching as many parents and caregivers as possible with this information is crucially important as we head into the peak season for aquatic recreation,” said Rick Root, President of the World Waterpark Association. “Whether families are spending time at a waterpark, the community pool, the beach or the lake, we want them to be prepared by enrolling kids in swimming lessons and always providing active adult supervision.”

Research released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2021 shows drowning is the single leading cause of death for kids ages 1-4 and remains the second leading cause of unintended, injury related death for kids ages 5-14. While research from the AAP/National Library of Medicine shows that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1-4.

“At the age of five, I almost drowned,” shared U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, Cullen Jones speaking at the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson at the Valley Of The Sun YMCA/Leslie’s location in Phoenix, AZ.  “I was fully supervised, there were lifeguards there, my parents were there… but as soon as I hit the water, I flipped upside down and because I hadn’t had swim lessons, I didn’t know what to do,” said Jones. “We want to make sure people are safer around the water and the best way to do that is swimming lessons.”

U.S. Olympic Silver Medalist, Maritza McClendon, the first African American female to swim for Team USA and win an Olympic Medal, led the WLSL event at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The Disney World Resorts hosted more than 600 kids from area non-profits including Boys and Girls Clubs, Elevate Orlando, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Big Brothers Big Sisters, making it the largest event in the state of Florida.

In total, more than 600 waterparks, aquatic centers and Goldfish Swim School locations, hosted the same lesson. From Hong Kong to Qatar, to the United Arab Emirates and Okinawa, Japan where the U.S. Marine Corps Installations Pacific taught both Marines and Marine Corps families, every facility worked to share the same important message that Swimming Lessons Save Lives.

B-roll and file footage from the 6/22/2023 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson Event:


  • Children learning basic swim strokes, kicking and doing the back float with instructors.
  • Soundbites: Olympic Medalists Cullen Jones, Maritza McClendon and instructors on the importance of learning to swim.

About The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™
The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ is celebrating its 14th year of raising awareness about the critical importance of teaching kids and parents to Be Water Aware™ to prevent drowning. The WLSL event, first launched in 2010, serves as a platform to use one voice to send the clear and unified message that Swimming Lessons Save Lives™. Since the program’s inception, WLSL host locations have provided more than 200,000 hours of water safety training to 354,000+ children and adults. Learn more about this phenomenal program by visiting www.WLSL.org.

Contact: Beth Root


SOURCE World’s Largest Swimming Lesson