When the California Baptist University swim team treaded water at practice on Sept. 27, conditioning was not the only goal: There was also a Guinness World Record on the line.
As part of the International Water Safety Foundation’s Tread-A-Thon, the CBU swim team joined approximately 70 other groups in treading water for a half-hour to raise awareness for drowning in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, every hour of every day more than 40 people lose their lives to drowning.
These groups simultaneously treaded water in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Most People Treading Water at the Same Time in Multiple Locations.” Starting at 2 p.m. local time, the Lancers men and women’s swim team did their part to chase the world record.
Rick Rowland, head swim and dive coach, said it was a great experience for his team.
“It sent a great message. It made the students aware that there are other parts of the world that are not as blessed as we are,” Rowland said. “The students are excited about being a part of that and bringing awareness.”
For Josh Fluetsch, junior kinesiology major and swimmer, raising drowning awareness hits close to home.
When a girl drowned in a pool in his hometown, Fluetsch volunteered to give swim lessons. He has been volunteering every summer since he was 16 years old.
“This is a cool thing for the swim program to be a part of,” Fluestch said. “That being said, there is much more we can do to physically help the cause on top of raising awareness for it.”
Colton Babcock, freshman biomedical engineering major and swimmer, said he was excited about the opportunity to be a part of a world record attempt.
“CBU’s motto is ‘Live Your Purpose,’” Babcock said. “This saying ties into the idea that God has given all of us talents he expects us to use to glorify him.”
Babcock said he has served as a coach for several teams.
“This was a way to showcase our talent for something good and bigger than ourselves,” Babcock said.
Rowland decided to use the Tread-A-Thon as part of his team’s training. For his swimmers, treading water for a half hour would not be overly challenging but Rowland added another aspect of difficulty. Swimmers used a variation of strokes and Rowland had them hold their arms out of the water for 40 seconds of each minute.
“Treading water for 30 minutes isn’t exactly fun,” Fluetsch said, “but it’s for a good cause, so that made it worth it.”
Babcock said, “Treading water for swimmers isn’t the hardest thing but if you try to make it harder, you can, and that’s what we did.”
After experiencing the 30-minute session, Babcock said he has a newfound respect for water polo players, who typically tread water for most of their match.
“This shows what the purpose of the swim team is,” Babcock said. “Not only to win championships but to showcase our talents for something bigger.”
The International Water Safety Foundation will be donating 80 percent of the funds from this initiative to drowning intervention projects, such as SWIM Cambodia.
“We wanted to bring awareness to the global pandemic of drowning in countries like Cambodia,” Rowland said. “A lot of people drown each year that are not monitored.”
The final tally for the record-breaking attempt is not known.
The previous record, set in 2009, stands at 805 people. Rowland said the Lancers were simply trying to be “part of the cause.”
The world record announcement has yet to be made.