Children Participate in 'World's Largest Swimming Lesson' - 8 News NOW

Children Participate in 'World's Largest Swimming Lesson'

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HENDERSON -- Imagine tens of thousands of children around the world learning to swim all at the same time.

That's what happened Tuesday as part of "The World's Largest Swimming Lesson."

The swimming lesson is not just for fun and games. The event is meant to spread an important message about water safety.

Public pools in Henderson took part in the event, with children getting a free swim lesson. Parents also received information on why it's important for children to learn how to swim as young as possible.

It's a life saving skill experts say will come handy when least expected.

Ten-year-old E.J. Baskin and his little sister, Carrie, are like little dolphins in the water.

Their grandmother started them with swimming lessons when they were barely a year old, so they never have to experience what she went through years ago.

"One time I jumped in, I had to struggle and it scared me to death," grandmother Carrie Smith said. "If you are scared of the water, it's going to kill you."

Experts said nearly 90 percent of drowning can be prevented if children learn how stay afloat in the water.

"It just takes a minute for a child to slip out and for a tragic incident to occur," Henderson Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Kim Becker said. "What we are trying to do is give parents information they need to prevent those tragedies."

Parent Heather Shook has seen such a tragedy firsthand and never wants to see it happen to her young children.

She said swimming lessons are key for their safety and her peace of mind.

"It's the most important thing here in the summer -- here in Vegas – I would say," Shook said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of Americans don't know how to swim. Experts said if children don't learn by the time they are in third grade, chances are, they'll never learn.

For E.J. and Carrie, they just can't imagine not spending time by the pool, especially growing up in Las Vegas.

"If you don't get in the pool, you will be super duper hot," 5-year-old Carrie said.

Carrie's grandmother said she still wants to learn how to swim someday.

"If something was going on with them, I would jump in, but I might not make it back," Smith said. "I need to learn. I really do."

The cities of Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, and Clark County, offers swimming lessons for children and adults.

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