A new book has been written about NC State’s Cullen Jones — with an eye toward younger readers.
In Speed to Glory: The Cullen Jones Story, first-time author Natalie Davis Miller tells a story familiar to fans of Jones, who is preparing for the upcoming Olympics in London. The former NC State swimmer has qualified to compete in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
The 98-page paperback was published by Zonderkidz, which specializes in Bibles and Christian-themed books and videos. The books revisits the story of how Jones nearly drowned in a pool when he was 5 years old, prompting his mother to enroll him in swimming classes.
Jones, of course, went on to compete at the highest levels of swimming. He swam for NC State, winning an NCAA championship in the 50-yard freestyle and then went on to be part of the dramatic 4×100 relay with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale that won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Jones also has served as a role model, encouraging countless kids to take up swimming. As one of the few African-Americans competing at the highest levels of swimming, Jones has been an inspiration to African-American children to get in the pool.
The book focuses on the hard work Jones put in to succeed in swimming, as well as the importance of faith in his athletic pursuits.
Miller, a freelance writer in Indiana, says she was attracted to Jones’ story because he is defying stereotypes and because he is giving back to his community through the Make a Splash safety initiative sponsored by USA Swimming.
“He’s going out into the community and talking at schools and other places about water safety,” she says. “How awesome is that? He’s an Olympic swimmer and he’s still getting in the water with little kids and helping them learn how to swim.”
Miller says that may end up being Jones’ greatest legacy, even if he is able to win more Olympic medals in London. “By reaching these parents and their children, he’s going to save more lives down the line,” she says. “His legacy will shine through him in that way.”
But Miller and her family will be watching and cheering as Jones competes in London for what he hopes will be his first Olympic medal in an individual event.
Braden Holloway ’01 is not content to just be back home. He wants to win, too. In June the Wolfpack hired the five-time All-American, who had been an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, as the head coach of swimming and diving. Holloway returns to NC State, where he won back-to-back ACC titles in 2000 and 2001 in the 100 backstroke. He says “it’s been a little while” since the Wolfpack has seen consistent results, citing only two standouts, Cullen Jones ’06 and Kristin Davies ’09, produced by the program in the last decade. With the swimming and diving season starting up in two weeks — the Red and White Scrimmage is Oct. 7 — we talked with Holloway about his experiences as a student-athlete and his expectations as a coach.
What he envisions for State’s program: The chapter I want to write is resurgence. The chapter I want to create is the one of the dominant program. It starts with getting the right people here. … Recruiting is a battle. …[Recruits] better be ready to work hard. When I recruit, I look for overall character. I don’t necessarily look for how fast they are currently because currently they’re not here. I look at how much they’re going to impact the program.
What makes him a strong recruiter and coach: I think my youth. I’m an energetic guy both on deck and on the phone. …I thrive on the team’s work ethic. I like to create a high-intensity environment.
Best memory as a student-athlete: My junior year [fall of 1999]we went to Carolina. We were supposed to get beat pretty bad, and we beat them. It was just a good feeling to go to their place when we were a huge underdog.
His continued connection to State: I still talk to one of my professors today–Annette Moore [lecturer in the department of parks, recreation and tourism management]. She helped me figure out life at that point where I was. She taught a lot of leadership classes. When I started taking some of her classes, my life just became better. I became faster in the pool. I became a better student.
Cullen Jones ’06 got off to a slow start this weekend in the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, failing to advance out of the preliminaries in the 50 butterfly.
But he got some attention on Sunday in The New York Times Magazine, which had a two-page spread on Jones. The story recounts Jones’ journey from a five-year-old who nearly drowned because he couldn’t swim to an Olympic champion who works with minority children to help them get comfortable in the pool.
Jones is still scheduled to compete in the 50 free in Shanghai.
Cullen Jones ’06 will once again represent the United States in the pool, this time at the 2011 FINA World Championships starting this weekend in Shanghai, China. It is one of the last significant international swim meets before the 2012 Olympics.
Jones, a 2006 NCAA champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist, will compete in the 50 butterfly and the 50 freestyle. Prelims in the butterfly begin Sunday.
Ngongang, who served as senior class president at NC State, works for the website Mobilize.org. He develops activism programs like Democracy 2.0 that call attention to how our democratic process is affecting the millennial generation. Ngongang talked about his work and what inspires in an interview with TheGrio.com.
Jones, an Olympic gold medalist, uses his swimming talents to help children through a national anti-drowning initiative, Make a Splash. He talked to TheGrio.com about his passion for helping kids learn to swim.
Other honorees include First Lady Michelle Obama, singer Jill Scott, actress Viola Davis and NBA star Kevin Durant.
Former NC State swimmer and U.S. Olympic Gold medalist Cullen Jones set a new American record in the 50 freestyle on Saturday, July 11, at the 2009 Conoco Phillips National Championships. Jones clocked in with a 21.41 in a swim-off against Olympic teammate Garrett Weber-Gale, setting a new U.S. standard. Weber-Gale swam a 21.70.
Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones ’06 is doing some great work around the country getting kids — especially minorities — involved in swimming. The Houston Chronicle today recounts Jones’ own experience as a 5-year-old who didn’t know how to swim:
Jones was 5 when he went cascading down a slide at a water park, clinging for dear life to an inner tube. The next thing he knew, he was asking his parents which ride he could go on next.
He doesn’t remember the mouth-to-mouth, CPR part of the story.
African-American kids drown at a rate 2.6 times higher than Caucasian kids and drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1-14 years. Almost 60 percent — six out of 10 — African American and Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim.