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Free swimming lesson offered Thursday

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SELMA — Johnston County residents can take part in the “world’s largest swimming lesson” at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Selma town pool, 211 W. Griswold St.

According to Selma Parks and Recreation Director Billy Roach, the world’s largest swimming lesson is a global public relations event sponsored by the American Red Cross and supported by aquatic facilities, waterparks, pools, swim schools and YMCAs.

Roach said the World Waterpark Association started the program in 2010 as an outreach effort for people who don’t know how to swim. The world’s largest swimming lesson will take place at hundreds of locations in more than 20 countries on five continents over the course of 24 hours.

Roach said there is no charge for Thursday’s session and Selma swimming pool membership is not required to participate.

Those wishing to take part can begin arriving and registering at 9:30 a.m. and the session itself will last about 30 minutes. The only item necessary to bring is a bathing suit, Roach said.

Some 36,564 people worldwide took part in single-day swim lessons in 2014, a number recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Organizers hope to break that record this year.

According to the American Red Cross, more than half of all Americans either cannot swim or lack basic swimming skills.

“Research shows that participation in formal swimming lessons between the ages of 1-4 can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%,” said Roach. “Drowning remains as the second-leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for U.S. children ages 1-14.”

Skyler Allen, a senior at Mount Olive University who is working as an intern at Selma Parks and Recreation, will be assisting with the world’s largest swimming lesson in Selma.

“I am excited to have the people coming for this event that will provide them with an experience that should help reduce the number of drownings at parks and beaches,” said Allen.