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Red Cross discontinues swim lessons
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A part of the McMinnville community for decades, the Red Cross has stopped offering free swim lessons and will transfer that responsibility to the city.

A storied history that likely spans more than half a century is coming to an end.

The Red Cross has announced its free swim lesson program will not be offered this summer and the organization will be passing the proverbial torch to the city of McMinnville to continue swim lessons in the future.

“It was a really hard decision, a heart-breaking decision,” said Red Cross swim director Robyn Kirby. “When you talk to people, it seems everyone has some connection to free swim lessons. It’s been part of this community for such a long time. We couldn’t make it work this year with the social distancing requirements and looking to the future, with fewer and fewer volunteers, we feel this is something that’s best for the city to handle.”

While the Standard was unable to reach anyone sure of an exact year when the program started, the Red Cross has been offering free swim lessons in this community for at least four decades. The program traditionally serves more than 400 participants every summer.

In an official statement released to the community, the Red Cross said, in part, “It is with a heavy heart that we will no longer be offering our services to the community but will be passing this responsibility to McMinnville Parks and Recreation. With diminishing numbers of volunteers to teach lessons and increased demand for quality swim instruction, we feel that McMinnville Parks and Recreation will be better equipped to meet the community’s needs at this time.”

With Gilley Pool set to open for the season on Saturday, June 13, there will be small group swim lessons offered this summer. Sign-ups are currently taking place at the Parks and Recreation office at Three Star Mall for all ages.

There are time slots available for mornings, evenings and some Saturdays. The cost is $40 for four lessons. Call 473-2191 for more information.