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Muskegon Heights school pool ready for Guinness record attempt, summer lessons

Student swimmers are needed for the World's Largest Swimming Lesson Thursday, June 17 at the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy's pool.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The swimming pool at Muskegon Heights High School was ordered closed in 2012 when a state Emergency Manager arrived in the district to stop and fix a financial crisis. That closure of the pool was ordered to save the district money. It lasted more than seven years, leaving students in the district without a place to have swim lessons even though their school had the newest full size swimming pool in all of Muskegon County.

Leaders with the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy made it a goal to reopen the pool. That goal was achieved in December 2019. Swim lessons resumed, then stopped due to COVID-19. 

MHPSA Aquatics Director Jeannette Bytwerk is pleased to announce students can sign up for free swim classes beginning June 21. A second round of classes starts on July 10.

"It's very exciting," said Bytwerk. "Everybody is going to the lake and going to the backyard pools and so it's more important than ever. So many lives could be saved." 

The classes are also open to students from other area schools and adults in the community too, but the cost is $50. MHPSA is also starting an intergenerational family swim lesson called "Splash" beginning June 28. Space in all the summer swim classes is limited. More information is available on the academy's website.  

The academy is also working to recruit, train and support African Americans to obtain accreditation to become lifeguards and swim instructors so the pool staff reflects the Muskegon Heights community. 

A special event at the pool on Thursday, June 17 could set a new Guinness World Record. The annual World's Largest Swimming Lesson is a global event with participation annually in excess of 36,000 with students in 22 different countries taking part in the event.

The Academy is encouraging local K-8 students to sign up for the event. Students are asked to register in advance to guarantee a spot. Some walk-ins may be allowed the day of the event up until pool capacity is reached.

"Kids that engage in this swim lesson will have the opportunity to join with tens of thousands of kids around the world," said Mercy Health Injury Prevention Coordinator Holly Alway. "What we really want to do is get kids into formal swim lessons because we know kids are 88% less likely to drown when they have those strong swimming skills." 

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