MHCC Helps East County Kids Learn to Swim

Posted: July 2, 2010

The facts are sobering: children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at-risk for drowning; in ethnically-diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is 2-3 times higher than the national average. Motivated by newly released information from USA Swimming, Mt. Hood Aquatic Center has joined forces with the Mt. Hood Aquatics swim team, East County Head Start, and the David Douglas and Reynolds school districts to provide free swim lessons to hundreds of children, and water safety education to thousands. Efforts are being supported by grant funding awarded by the USA Swimming Foundation, Speedo, the National Swimming Center Corporation, and the East Portland (Oregon) Neighborhood Office.

“Research tells us that if a child doesn’t learn to swim by the third grade, they likely never will,” said Chris LaBianco, Chief Development officer for the USA Swimming Foundation. “Swimming is more than a recreational skill, it’s a skill that can save lives, and it is vitally important that we provide this opportunity to kids from all socio-economic groups at an early age.”

As a local implementation of the USA Swimming Foundation’s anti-drowning initiative, Make A Splash, children enrolled in Head Start at the on-campus site of Mt. Hood Community College, and elementary school children in the Reynolds School District who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program will be eligible to participate in swim lessons at no charge during the upcoming school year. Additionally, water safety education days will be held this coming fall at each of the elementary schools in the Reynolds School District. Free lessons are already in progress for eligible elementary students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program in the David Douglas School District

“Mt. Hood Community College and Mt. Hood Aquatics are extremely excited about being afforded the opportunity to be at the forefront of drowning prevention for our community. Learning to swim is not only an essential skill for children to learn, but can also serve as a vehicle for lifetime fitness—we are honored to be able to offer this opportunity to those children who might never get a chance to learn to swim”, said Brandon Drawz, Director of Aquatics and Recreation at Mt. Hood Community College.

Out of 222 local partners in 42 states, Mt. Hood Aquatic Center is one of only two Make A Splash Local Partner in Oregon, and was recently awarded one of twelve nationwide grants given by Make A Splash, in recognition of the partnership’s innovative approach to child-focused water safety.  To learn more about Make A Splash, or to sponsor a swim lesson for a child, contact Jody Rash at (503) 491-7243, or visit

For more information on the lesson programs at Mt. Hood Aquatic Center, contact Donna Ryan at (503) 491-7246, or visit the aquatic center website at

Questions regarding the Mt. Hood Aquatics swim team may be directed to Julie Greenaway at (503) 667-4465 or visit:

Program information and scheduling for the David Douglas Pool are available by calling (503) 261-8378.

For information on aquatic programs at the Reynolds Community Pool, please call (503) 665-4494.

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 Last Modified: 10/3/2014 02:22:11 PM