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USF event sets world record for speed dating

TAMPA — It was an unconventional pick-up line in an unusual setting.

"What do you want to do before you die?"

Cross setting a world record off that list.

Two hundred and eighty-eight people at the University of South Florida set a Guinness World Record Wednesday for the largest speed mixer ever.

Sitting across from each other under the blaring Florida sun, strangers had three minutes to ponder the question before moving on to the next person in line. Each dater would speak to 20 different people by the end.

Watching over them: Philip Robertson, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records.

"Who has found love here?" he asked before the final round. "Three people? Great!"

Though the sweat-inducing heat may have quashed an outbreak of romances, most involved said they still had fun.

"I think half of my face is sunburned," said Samantha Anton, a USF business student. "But it was a really cool thing to get to be a part of."

The event was sponsored by Verizon Wireless Careers and hosted by the cast of the MTV program The Buried Life, which features friends who travel across the country completing items on their bucket lists and helping strangers fulfill their dreams.

"The whole project's idea is to encourage people to go after things in life," cast member Jonnie Penn said.

The question asked at the event elicited answers ranging from normal to bizarre.

"I want to star on the Disney channel," one person said. Another hoped to someday roll down a hill in a giant hamster ball.

"It provided a weird glimpse into people's lives," said Theresa Milhizer, a 26-year-old from Naples, who spoke about wanting to visit Alaska.

Michael Belliveau, a USF structural engineering graduate student, had a long list of goals.

"I want to build a world-famous bridge," he told Ashley Martinez, a USF early childhood major, during the first round.

"I want to build a sailboat from scratch and sail all over the world in it," he said.

By the sixth round of the same question, Belliveau's list had been fine-tuned.

"It seems like my bucket list is getting more clear and concise," he said.

In the end, the event was fun, he said, but that was it. He doesn't expect any new connections to come of it.

Before Wednesday, there was no existing Guinness World Record for a large speed dating event, Guinness' Robertson said.

In order to set the record, the event had to have at least 250 people involved, he said.

The day started with more than 300, but dozens of participants walked away during the two-hour event.

Why 250 people?

"It has to be arduous enough to be challenging," Robertson said. "But not so arduous that it can't be achieved."

Times photographer Kathleen Flynn contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2442.

USF event sets world record for speed dating 04/25/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 2:13pm]
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