‘Take the plunge’: Free adult swim lessons start April 16

For the third year in a row, Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, in cooperation with Columbia Gorge Masters Swim Team, will offer five free swim lessons during the month of April to any interested adult 18 years of age and older. The parks district and Columbia Gorge Masters applied for grant money from U.S. Masters Swimming “Swimming Saves Lives” Foundation and received $2,500 to fund an Adult Learn to Swim program.

Adult swimmers of all ability levels are welcome to participate — from the complete beginner with possible fear of the water, to the swimmer who wants to master the basic strokes and breathing, to the more advanced swimmer who would like to improve stroke technique. The teaching will be tailored to the student’s comfort and ability level with a low teacher to student ratio.

Five class sessions will be offered and are free. Participants are encouraged to attend all five class sessions. Classes are from 6:45-7:15 p.m. or 7:30-8 p.m. and will be offered on Monday, April 16, Wednesday, April 18, Monday, April 23, Wednesday, April 25, and Monday, April 30

Adult classes will continue to be offered at the Hood River Aquatic Center following the free lessons in April, and remaining grant funds will go towards providing adult swim lesson scholarships for future participants.

Last year, over 70 adults participated. Center officials hope to increase that number this year. Pre-registration is required. Register for the program at www.hoodriverparksandrec.org , in person at the aquatic center, or by calling 541-386-1303.

Columbia Gorge Masters will provide volunteer instructors under the direction of aquatic center staff. Columbia Gorge Masters practices Monday through Friday from 6-7:30 a.m., as well as on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5:45-6:45 p.m. Information regarding its program can be found on www.hrvst.org.

Nationally, only 37 percent of adults know how to swim.

“We hope to increase that percentage,” said Marcie Wily, the center’s assistant director. “Learning to swim can not only save a life, but it has a multitude of positive effects on an individual’s health and well-being. Our direct exposure to water in this community makes it important for everyone to have the opportunity to learn how to swim, especially for those who have little experience with swimming or have a fear of water.

“In addition, because we live in a recreational area with multiple opportunities for water sports, there are many adults who would benefit from learning basic water safety, as well as becoming stronger swimmers,” Wily said.

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