x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Yas Waterworld in a bid to break the Guinness World Record

The park is hoping to break the record for the largest number of swimmers at a single venue.

Children and adults took the dive at Yas Waterworld yesterday in a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest swimming lesson. Delores Johnson / The National
Children and adults took the dive at Yas Waterworld yesterday in a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest swimming lesson. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Keep kicking, keep kicking … and hundreds did just that.

Children and adults took the dive at Yas Waterworld yesterday in a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest swimming lesson.

It was the fourth year in a row that thousands of people at waterparks and swimming pools around the world united for the event, which is aimed at saving children by teaching them to swim.

Last year a record 24,803 adults and children in 16 countries on five continents took part.

Tim Mo, Yas Waterworld's manager, said the park hoped to break the record for the largest number of swimmers at a single venue.

Mr Mo said the record was 611 people, beaten by the number who took part at Yas yesterday.

Crowds of excited swimmers started gathering by the park's wave pool at about 6pm, an hour early.

Fatima Teedani, 9, said she had been swimming for five years and her favourite stroke was front crawl.

"It is important to know how to swim," Fatima said.

Her sister Aiysha, 8, and brother Joseph, 11, were also among the swimmers.

"I love being in the water," said Joseph.

A blur of arms and legs raced to the pool as the starting whistle blew.

"Nobody can learn to swim in 30 minutes but this is all about safety awareness and what people need to do to be safe in and near the water," said swimming instructor Maria Holmes, who led the lesson.

Ms Holmes, from Bulgaria, taught floating and breathing techniques, arm movements and the right kicking action.

Syed Faisel, 36, of Abu Dhabi, took his son Syed Humaid, 2, to the event.

"We came to hopefully see the record being broken," the father said.

Sabah Elnaim, 35, took her three daughters Isra, 10, Ayat, 6, and Eman, 2, who she said were very excited to be part of a global event.

"I think it is important they get good training to learn how to swim," said Ms Elnaim, from Sudan.

Mr Mo said: "In the UAE, not a lot of people are used to going into the water.

"We feel it is our job to give back to the community and teach them how to stay safe."

Swimmers also turned up in numbers to Dubai's Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm.

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental, injury-related death for children up to the age of 14 years.

Research shows if a child doesn't learn to swim by the age of nine, it is unlikely they ever will.

"As a waterpark and a family attraction located in a country with a sizeable shoreline, the importance of knowing how to swim and having the ability to enjoy water-based activities is very relevant to us here in the UAE," said Mike Oswald, general manager at Yas Waterworld.

"This seemed like a great way to get involved in a global drive to spread the message of the life-saving value of learning to swim."

Those that took part in the record-breaking attempt had free access to the park's rides after the event.

The World's Largest Swimming Lesson was created by the World Waterpark Association in 2010.

Event organisers estimated that more than 35,000 participants at more than 700 venues took part this year's attempt, an increase of more than 40 per cent increase on last year's record.

The exact number of participants this year has yet to be determined.

jbell@thenational.ae