Skip to content

Excellent Read On Cullen Jones’s Efforts To Combat Childhood Drowning

May 21, 2009
The Houston Chronicle

You gotta love Cullen Jones.

While Michael Phelps spent the nine months since the 2008 Olympics hitting the media circuit (and a bong with Gamecock coeds), Jones — the former N.C. State All American and gold-medal winning swimmer from Beijing — has been doing his best to help kids in the Houston area learn how to swim.

If you’re not familiar with Jones’s story, it’s a pretty fascinating. He nearly drowned as a small child at a waterpark, fueling his desire to prevent kids — particularly minorities, who stand a greater statistical chance of drowning — from losing their lives in the water.

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.

It would have been a senseless death. Jones was fortunate to survive. Many others don’t make it.

Already this year, 11 children have drowned in Houston. All were under the age of 12. More than 30 children died in drownings in the Houston area last year, up from 22 in 2007.

This has to stop.

“This is something that is preventable,” Jones said. “The economy? We’re working on it. Pollution? We’re working on it. Those are problems that are much (more complicated). The drowning rate? This is something we can change. Go get swim lessons.”

The problem is more significant in minority communities. USA Swimming’s research shows that 60 percent of African-American children and 56 percent of Latino children do not know how to swim, compared to 31 percent of white children.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fatal drowning rate for black children ages 5 to 14 is three times higher than for white children of the same age.

To address the issue, Jones has partnered with USA Swimming and ConocoPhillips to provide free swimming lessons to kids across America. He’ll be traveling to six cities in the U.S. to spread the word, and kickstarted the tour this week in Houston, Tx.

“I learned how to swim and have fun in the water,” said third-grader Jacob Garza, one of five Johnson students who spent nearly an hour in the pool with Jones. “I think it’s awesome to learn from Cullen Jones.”

We think it’s awesome to have Jones as a Pack alum.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: