ORLANDO — A 6-month-old girl whose professional water-skier parents put her on junior-size water skis last week glided 686 feet across a man-made lake in what her parents say sets a youth record.
Keith St. Onge said in an interview Wednesday that his daughter Zyla could have kept going if the boat hadn't reached the end of the lake.
"We had to stop," St. Onge said. "Otherwise, she would have gone a lot longer."
The 30-inch, 20-pound Zyla, who doesn't yet walk, skied across Lake Silver in Winter Haven, Florida, last Thursday. A video of her skiing was posted on YouTube.
She stood on tiny water skis that were attached to each other by wood. She gripped a handle bar attached to the skis that looks like a walker someone with mobility problems might use. She wore a pink and purple life jacket as a boat pulled her at a speed of 7 mph.
About a dozen adults treaded water on either side of Zyla's path, but the path in the lake ran out of adults as she glided farther away from the shore, at which point she grimaced and let out a few cries.
"If I would have known she was going much longer, we would have more people lined up," St. Onge said.
St. Onge pulled the boat's 30-foot line closer and slowed the boat down as Zyla got farther out. When she and the skis sank into the water, he jumped in and was with her in seconds, he said.
"She barely, barely got her head wet," St. Onge said.
USA Water Ski spokesman Scott Atkinson said the association doesn't keep track of youngest or oldest water skier records. It only tracks the youngest and oldest to ever compete in national championships.
"I am presuming this is something that the folks at Guinness World Records may track," Atkinson said in an email.
St. Onge said he had contacted Guinness officials, but they told him they don't record anything involving individuals under age 16.
Zyla's parent noticed that when she was able to stand, she had a strong grip on whoever's hand she was holding, so they thought she might be good at water skiing. They placed her in skis inside their house, pulled her across the carpet and saw that she loved it, St. Onge said. She also was used to the water from trips to pools and lakes.
St. Onge said he realizes some people might not think it's appropriate for someone so young to be water skiing, but he said safety measures were taken and it happened in the controlled environment of a private lake geared for water skiing.
"People don't realize that it was done properly," he said. "It was planned and she was ready for it."