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.
“I think he’ll do well,” Miller says.