On March 7th, Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones made a splash with kids in Texas as he kicked off the USA Swimming Foundation’s ConocoPhillips sponsored “Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones” tour.
Jones, the first African-American male to hold a world record in swimming spoke with, and taught kids how to swim at the Buffalo Creek Elementary School, and Clay Road Family YMCA in Houston, TX. The 2012 Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones tour is a “six-city national water safety tour designed to educate parents, kids and communities about the importance of learning to swim.”
Although Cullen is an Olympic medalist, he wasn’t always a great swimmer. At the age of five he nearly drowned, this left a lasting impact on his life. “Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14.”
“Every child in America needs to learn how to swim. It is a critical skill that can determine the difference between life and death in a matter of seconds,” said Jones, the first African-American male to hold a world record in swimming. “Drowning is an epidemic, but it’s an epidemic with a cure. That is why I am so proud to be working with ConocoPhillips and the USA Swimming Foundation to educate parents, children and caregivers about the learn-to-swim resources available in their communities. By raising awareness and providing the opportunity for more kids to learn to swim, we are saving lives.”
Jones led a youth rally with approximately 320 children at Buffalo Creek Elementary School. All first and second graders at Buffalo Creek Elementary received a full session of free swimming lessons at Clay Road Family YMCA, courtesy of the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips, and several local kids received a semi-private swim lesson at the Clay Road Family YMCA.
Drowning statistics are startling. “Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time,” according to the Present P. Child Drowning study. A national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis found 60-70% of African-American, and Latino children do not know how to swim, and the CDC reports “African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.” Therefor swimming, and safety lessons are vital to minority children.
Stay tuned for more.
Photos via CullenJones.com, Richard J. Carson