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The Friends of the Dallas Aquatic Center passed out about 1,200 free passes to students at Dallas elementary schools, opening the way for children to get exposure to swimming and playing in the water.

The group wants to do more than encourage people to use the facilities, which are partly paid for by the city — it wants to teach water safety skills.

With it being nearly Halloween, with highs lucky to hit 60 and lows in the 30s on some days, it may seem the wrong season for teaching water safety. On the contrary, what better time to learn than before the high temperatures increases the temptation to dive into the Willamette?

People who know how to swim and are confident in and around water may take that for granted. Others — children and adults — have never learned to swim. They may be terrified of getting too close to the ocean, lakes and rivers that offer summer recreation.

Even those who know how to swim can struggle with the rushing currents of the Willamette River, or a riptide in the Pacific.

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