HUDSON — Water safety was the theme of the morning of June 17 at Veterans Memorial Park.

Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources invited area youths to participate in the annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, a promotional event designed to spread awareness about the importance of teaching kids to swim and prevent drowning. Swim lessons took place at pools throughout the United States and around the globe June 17 and Pasco Parks and Rec Aquatics Coordinator Alicia Szilagyi said it was good to be back after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To get a large group like this to come out and to be able to touch so many people in 30 minutes is just awesome,” Szilagyi said minutes before the Hudson event took place. Pasco County’s other location hosting a World’s Largest Swimming Lesson event was at Seal Swim School in Wesley Chapel.

“I love it because the first 10 minutes we talk about water safety and we educate them on what to do in case of an emergency,” Szilagyi said. “I feel like that education gets forgotten about sometimes, and water safety is so important in general.”

This year’s event in Hudson attracted nearly 70 registered youths, and Pasco Parks and Rec had nine swim instructors in the pool in addition to on-duty lifeguards watching over the lessons.

Children were divided into nine groups based on age and instructors guided them through a series of safety techniques, such as properly getting in and out of pools, summoning for help in the event of an emergency and helping someone get out of the pool.

The World's Largest Swimming Lesson was created in 2010 by the World Waterpark Association as a global public relations event that is supported by aquatic facilities, waterparks, pools, swim schools, YMCAs and other entities. According to WLSL.org, “the event serves as a platform to help the global aquatics industry work together to build awareness about the fundamental importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning.”

In addition to being able to host the global water safety event again, Szilagyi said the Veterans Memorial Park pool is back to full capacity, which is a maximum of 150 guests at a time. COVID limited swim lessons to individual, private sessions last year, Szilagyi said, but group sessions have returned.

More information on daily swim rates, season passes and lessons can be found on the county website at PascoCountyFL.net/3323/Veterans-Memorial-Park-Pool.