Getting To Know…Cullen Jones
Known for: U.S. competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist
About: Born in 1984 in the Bronx, N.Y., Cullen Jones learned to swim at age 5 after being rescued from a near-drowning at a Pennsylvania water park. He began swimming on club teams and graduated from St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., in 2002 while setting numerous Essex County swimming records. At North Carolina State University, he majored in English and swam for NCSU's Wolfpack team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition. At the 2005 World University Games, he won the gold medal in 50-meter freestyle, becoming the first African American to win a gold medal at these games. He turned pro in 2006, signing with Nike, and set a meet record in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. He also swam a leg in the world record-breaking 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay along with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale. He also won a gold medal in 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay with the same teammates in the 2007 World Aquatics Championships. Jones is the second African American to hold or share a world record (4-by-100-meter freestyle relay) in swimming (after Anthony Ervin). At the 2008 Olympic Games, he again took the gold medal with teammates in the relay. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Jones won silver medals and a team gold medal. In his spare time, Jones is dedicated to helping minorities learn to swim. He speaks motivationally and conducts clinics and lessons though the USA Swimming Foundation's Make A Splash program.