UC Irvine students love a challenge. And they brought that competitive spirit to the Anteater Recreation Center fields Tuesday afternoon when 3,875 participants broke the Guinness world record for largest water-blaster fight.

Anteaters easily bested the record’s previous holders, residents of Valladolid, Spain, who rallied 2,671 people in a water-pistol fight organized by the city’s council in 2007.

“The event definitely helps boost school spirit, especially since we don’t have a football team,” said Patricia Morales, a third-year sociology student. “It also helps freshmen meet people and feel like they’re part of a community.”

Philip Robertson, an adjudicator with Guinness World Records, was on hand to certify the results, counting players as they made their way through turnstiles at the ARC and subtracting those who left early.

UC Irvine’s achievement will be officially noted on the Guinness World Records website beginning Monday, Sept. 30.

Breaking Guinness world records has become an Anteater tradition. For the last three years, UC Irvine has competed with the University of Alberta in Canada for the world’s largest dodgeball game – with the title going back and forth. UC Irvine’s 2012 record of 6,084 participants, however, still stands, so students this year had to tackle a different challenge.

“People know us as the school that breaks world records,” said Jesus Garcia, a second-year political science student who ran around the field gleefully targeting his dorm roommates.

The event took place during the inaugural Blue & Gold Spirit Rally, one of many activities scheduled for UC Irvine’s Welcome Week, during which more than 6,000 freshmen and transfer students join the campus community.

The day had the feeling of a homecoming rally, as student group representatives lined up along the field to sell food and drinks and others set up booths for face painting and washable tattoo application. Student performers and Peter the Anteater showed up for the fun too.

“It was so refreshing!” said sophomore Lauren Villegas of the water-blaster battle. “Thank God for the sunny Southern California weather.”

On Wednesday, a day of philanthropy called “UC I Give Back,” as many as 1,000 Anteaters will volunteer at elementary and middle schools in Santa Ana and Tustin, in partnership with THINK Together, a nonprofit that provides resources to help students succeed academically.

Welcome Week concludes with a Thursday night screening of “2 Guns” in Aldrich Park and a Friday afternoon visit to Newport Beach, where students will take full advantage of UC Irvine’s coastal location with kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Other events during the week include Art Lab, an “Aldrich Park After Dark” concert, an after-party at The Hill and an ASUCI open house.