Walt Disney World Resort was once again Florida’s largest participating site for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson – an annual event designed to promote safe water practices worldwide. More than 650 Florida youth from six nonprofit organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, took part in the event at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and at various Walt Disney World Resort hotel pools to build awareness and empower students with the skills they need to swim safely. 

“Students need access to these critical safety lessons, especially here in Florida where we’re surrounded by water,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs at Walt Disney World Resort. “Being able to host the largest site in the state means our impact on their lives is huge – whether they were inspired to pursue a career in recreation or pass the lessons along to their friends and family. These are skills and memories that will last them a lifetime!” 

Former Olympic silver medalist Maritza Correia McClendon – the first African American woman to make the US Olympic swim team and set a world record – participated in the event, sharing her love of swimming and driving home the importance of water safety.  

Swimming and water safety are critical for kids, especially in Florida where there are numerous lakes, ponds and waterways, as well as swimming pools. McClendon, who grew up in Florida and now resides in the Atlanta area, talked with the kids about her journey with swim safety and emphasized just how important it is to understand from a young age.  

After the swimming lesson, students put their swimming skills into action and spent the rest of the day enjoying all the magic and watery attractions at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Students also had the opportunity to interact with Disney characters – including Mickey Mouse and Stitch – and even met with Disney lifeguards and the recruiting team to learn about available careers they may one day like to pursue. 

Disney experiences like this are part of the Disney Future Storytellers initiative and are designed to leave a lasting impact on these kids as they look to their futures.  For more information, visit DisneyFlorida.com.