Waterfront: August 2010

World's Largest Swimming Lesson

Oxx 810 AqThis past June, thousands of participants from the United States, Mexico, South Korea, Canada and United Arab Emirates took part in what organizers called the world's largest swimming lesson in an effort raise global awareness that "Swimming Lessons Save Lives," and set a Guinness World Record.

Spend a few minutes on the event's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WorldsLargestSwimmingLesson, and you'll see first-hand just how this lesson brought together communities from around the world. This mass session served as the sole opportunity to learn swimming techniques for some who may not otherwise have access to lessons, as it was a free event to anyone who signed up. Some of the 200 facilities hosted 25 participants (a required minimum) while others a few hundred.

At the top of the hour - everyone had to begin at the same time, including families in Hawaii lining up at 3 a.m. - host facilities drew participants into the pool, where they began a 45- to 60-minute basic swimming lesson. Participants learned how to, read pool signs, float face-up and face-down, turn around under water, hold their breath, blow bubbles, and different ways to get in and out of the pool safely, just to name a few. At the end of the event, the kids received a bracelet and certificate recognizing them as participants in the world record.

All Ducked Out

Yearly campaign remains successful

Okk 810 AqParagon Pools, Las Vegas, recently hosted its 7th annual "Float Like A Duck" campaign, bringing more than 300 participants to the Heinrich YMCA Water Sports Park. The event, held during Water Safety Month in May, educates the public on the importance of water safety. This year's event focused on enforcing water safety.

"We were happy that so many parents took advantage of this free program," says Joe Vassallo, president of Paragon. "Exposing the entire family to good water safety practices is key to making everyone responsible poolside."

YMCA lifeguards guided the kids through a series of hands-on safety training stations, including a floating station, emergency 911 call station, rescue assist and life vest station, Duck Float song station and parent-infant swim classes. Participants received oversized bookmarks with the ABCD's of water safety and the Float Like A Duck song in botth Spanish and English.

Giving Back

Garden turns into United Way campaign

Opp 810 AqFinding the time to volunteer can sometimes be a daunting task, especially with a job that requires travel. But for Don Bradford, vice president of sales for Evosus, which sells business management software to pool and spa retailers, traveling more than 125 days a year doesn't keep him from giving back to a community in need.

Bradford recently established a community garden in the Springfield neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla. Brandford transformed an old parking lot into a garden with the help of The Bridge of Northeast Florida and a grant from the Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida.

"We love living in Springfield so much that I was looking for a way to give back to the community, and this opportunity presented itself," says Bradford.

Bradford learned about gardening from his father and grandfather and now spends as much time as possible with the kids from The Bridge passing on those lessons. He's also sharing his business knowledge by taking the kids and their crops to a local farmer's market.

"Maybe some of the children will find their way into the world of swimming pools and backyard landscaping someday," says Bradford. "Although the immediate goal of the project is to provide healthy food for children in an area where poverty and obesity are serious problems."

Bradford's dedication to his community and its children was noticed by the United Way, which featured him in a recent bus and billboard campaign in Jacksonville.

Never Out Of Style

LEGOLAND California opens water park

Oqq 810 AqLEGOLAND California opened the world's first LEGO-themed water park this past June, enticing young guests with a 45-foot-tall tower that houses four water slides designed to immerse them into the creative world of LEGO.

The 5.5-acre, $12 million water park features a variety of rides, most notably the Build-A-Raft River, a one-of-a-kind concept where kids can create their own raft made of soft LEGO bricks to float down the lazy river, and the Imagination Station, where the kids can build with DUPLO bricks and test them against water flow, and create the water flow themselves.

"When designing the world's first LEGO themed water park, what better way to start than to take it from a child's perspective," says Bill Vollbrecht, master-model-builder-turned-project-designer for LEGOLAND California. "Imagine a child beginning to build a fun LEGO tower that they could actually play inside with their family. They would dump out a bucket of bricks in every color and combination, and create a fantastic, imagination-filled world. And that's exactly what I was able to create."

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