Beginning in 1992, Commissioner El Franco Lee instituted the Harris County Aquatics Program to develop valuable leadership and teamwork skills for youth through swimming. Through teaching the sport of swimming and also providing opportunities for competition, the Aquatics Program instills discipline and teamwork, while also providing instructions in a lifetime sport. The program is growing each year, and its award winning team, the Mighty Dolphins, has competed in numerous local and national swim meets across the USA. HCAP swimmers have gone on to receive scholarships to schools such as the University of Houston, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the University of Evansville, Louisiana State University, and the University of Utah. Four members of the competitive team have also qualified and competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Harris County Aquatics Program “HCAP” success is due in large part to its director Johnnie “Coach” Means. Coach Means, a renowned swim coach and retired head of Texas Southern University’s Swim Department, continues to demonstrate his dual vision and mission of training young bodies for recreational and competitive swimming, while simultaneously training young minds in skills of discipline, self assurance and commitment.

HCAP developed into what it is today by partnering with the Houston Independent School District, Aldine ISD and the American Red Cross. It operates at 3 locations in the Houston area: Attucks Middle School, Kashmere High School and the Harris County Aquatics Center. Each site is staffed with a swim coach, water safety instructor and lifeguard.

The Aquatics Program is conducted in three stages:

Stage 1: Free Learn-to-Swim classes to any youth 7 years of age and older taught by a certified WSI.

Stage 2: Upon Completing the five levels of Learn-to-Swim, the student is then taught and coached on the competitive swim strokes, which are freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke.

Stage 3: After demonstrating leadership and teamwork skills, dedication and ability, the student may be invited to become a member of the competitive swim team. This team competes in local and national meets sanctioned by USA Swimming.