PUM One on One with Olympic Champion Cullen Jones Coming to Pittsburgh Next Week to Support the Pittsburgh Stingrays and to Celebrate Black History Month
Cullen Jones burst onto the swimming scene at the 2005 World University Games. He easily won the Gold Medal in the 50 freestyle and became the first African-American Male to win a Gold Medal at the World University Games. Cullen continues to dominate the 50 meter sprint event and has also become a threat in the 100 meter freestyle. At the 2006 Pan Pacific Games, Cullen became the first African American to break a world record in swimming in an Olympic contested event as a part of the USA’s 4 X 100 Freestyle Relay Team. He also won the 50 meter freestyle swimming the fastest time in the world for 2006. Cullen was a 4 time ACC Champion and 2006 NCAA Champion from North Carolina State University.
Pittsburgh Urban Media Caught up With Cullen Jones Prior to Hist Visit on February 8th.
PUM: Why is your visit to Pittsburgh on behalf of the PittsburghStingrays very important? The organization provides a year -round competitive swim program to a diverse community, is this similar to some of your outreach efforts? Also have you visited Pittsburgh before? If so what was the occasion and your impression?
CJ: Swimming is a big part of my life. It’s important for me through awareness to increase access and opportunity for minority swimmers and all swimmers. I’ve traveled to many cities but don’t recall ever stopping in Pittsburgh.
PUM: As an Olympic swimmer you have focused on an initiative to teach people to swim in an effort to save lives, why is that so important to you? Especially to help teach African Americans how to swim, where it is reported nearly 70 percent of them have little or not swimming skills.
CJ: After a near drowning experience at 5 years, my mom pushed me into swim lessons. I grew to love the water and it’s my life work to encourage people, kids and adults, to learn to swim.
PUM: You are leading USA Swimming's Make a Splash program, touring the country teaching children the importance of learning to swim. The program has already taught millions of kids to swim, what are your goals with this organization? Are you seeing any results?
CJ: Yes. Kids are learning to swim, and parents are more aware that swim lessons are important to help prevent drownings.
PUM: As one of the fastest swimmers in the world, how do you train to become an Olympic Gold Medalist? What makes you so fast and a Champion?
CJ: I spend countless hours in the pool or on dry land training. I also eat health foods -- my mom always encouraged this. You get out of your body what you put into it. Lots of brussels sprouts!
PUM: After nearly drowning at the age of five, you overcame your fear of water to win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and you are also the first African-American male to hold a world record in swimming. When you reflect on such an awesome journey on your pathways to success, what does all of your experiences mean to you?
CJ: After Beijing, my mom and I spoke about how to use my gold medal as a spring board to my life’s work – making a difference in people’s lives, encouraging kids and adults to learn to swim.
PUM: What are some of your upcoming swimming goals? Personal goals? Are you planning for the 2016 games in Rio? Also it is reported you are interested in fashion design, why does this field interest you?
CJ: I plan on training for and hopefully competing in Rio. Having lived in NY and spending time in LA, I’ve had the privilege to meet many great designers – champions in their own industry. I love style and clothes , and know the importance of diversify my abilities beyond swimming.
PUM: How has all of the recognition and celebrity changed you?
CJ: It’s inspired me to use my ‘celebrity’ as an opportunity to help others. Make a difference in people’s lives.
Cullen Jones Pittsburgh Visit Details
The Pittsburgh Stingrays led by Coach Hosea Holder and Assistant Coach Norman Gregory is honored to kick off Black History Month by featuring Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones, (the first African American swimmer to hold an American swimming record) as a guest speaker in Pittsburgh who will address the theme, “Diversity in swimming, overcoming odds to achieve excellence.”
Jones will speak to inner city youth at Pittsburgh Obama and Pittsburgh Milliones (University Prep) schools, as well as the new Thelma Lovette YMCA located in the Hill District. The event is set and scheduled for February 8, 2013.
WHO: The Pittsburgh Stingrays led by Coach Hosea Holder and Assistant Coach Norman Gregory. Coach Holder is in his 47th year of coaching with a proven track record for helping young swimmers develop good stroke technique, great work habits and a positive attitude that translates to success in the pool and becoming outstanding young people who contribute to the community.
The organization provides a year-round competitive swim program to a diverse community of young swimmers. The leaders of the Pittsburgh Stingrays believe that all children should have access to Olympic/National caliber coaching and training/technique. They also believe that respect, discipline and diversity are the foundations for team and life. They compete under USA Swimming, which is the national governing body for the sport. Regionally, the Stingrays contend as a part of Allegheny Mountain Swimming which administers competition in parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Cullen Andrew Jones (born February 29, 1984) is a U.S. competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who specializes in freestyle sprint events. As part of the American team, he holds the world record in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay (long course). At the 2012 Summer Olympics, he won silver medals in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and the 50-meter freestyle.
WHEN: February 8, 2013
WHERE: 12:00 p.m. (noon)- Pittsburgh Obama 6-12 @ 515 N. Highland Avenue-Pittsburgh, PA 15206
2:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, University Preparatory School @ 3117 Centre Avenue-Pittsburgh, PA 15219
6-7:30 p.m. Thelma Lovett-YMCA Hill District @ 2114 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
For More Information -Contact: Robin Beckham at Beckham Media / 412-310-5967 or Robin@BeckhamMedia.com
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