A video (below) of a 6-month-old baby water skiing across two lakes in Winter Haven, Florida, has gone viral online. The video has also drawn controversy from Internet commenters concerned about the child's safety.
The 30-inch, 20-pound infant, Zyla, was seen in the video water-skiing on two different occasions, according to the Daily Mail. On May 20, she water-skied for 62 feet on Lake Silver. Later, on May 21, she is shown water-skiing a much longer distance of 686.4 feet on the calm waters of Lake Grew.
The baby stood upright on skis connected by a piece of wood, and held on to a handlebar attached to the skis that is normally used for skiers with mobility issues. She is seen in the video sporting a pink and purple life jacket as the boat, driven by her father, Keith St. Onge, pulled her at a speed of 7 mph.
St. Onge said in an interview May 25 that his daughter could have gone even further on Lake Grew if the boat hadn't reached the end of the water, the Daily Mail reported.
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"We had to stop," he said. "Otherwise, she would have gone a lot longer."
St. Onge, a professional water skier and owner of the World Barefoot Center water skiing school in Winter Haven, explained that adults were lined up in the lake on either side of Zyla as she rode the skis. As the baby went further out onto the lake, however, the line of adults ran out.
"If I would have known she was going much longer, I would have had more people lined up," said St. Onge.
The proud father explained that he pulled the boat's 30-foot line in closer and slowed the boat down as Zyla went farther out onto the lake. When she finally sank into the water at the end of the ride, he jumped in and was by her side to assist in a matter of seconds.
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"She barely, barely got her head wet," he explained.
The video clip, which lasts a little more than 2-minutes, was posted to YouTube May 25 and has since gone viral, garnering nearly 45,000 views in just one day. Although some YouTube commenters responding to the video congratulated Zyla on her stunning achievement, others accused her parents of child endangerment.
"I think this borders on child abuse," one poster wrote.
"A sick publicity stunt that put an infant at risk," another commented. "I hope the child welfare authorities come down hard on these parents."
St. Onge said he realized that the video was controversial, but assured that the appropriate safety precautions were taken and that the event took place in a controlled environment.
"People don't realize that it was done properly," he said, according to the Daily Mail. "It was planned and she was ready for it."
St. Onge said that he contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to report the infant's amazing feat, but was told that the book did not record accomplishments from people younger than 16 years of age.