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Wed, 02.29.1984

Cullen Jones, Olympic Swimmer born

Cullen Jones

*Cullen Jones was born on this date in 1984. He is a Black competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist in freestyle sprint events.

Born in the Bronx borough of New York City, Jones moved to Irvington, New Jersey, while in elementary school. He learned to swim after he was rescued from a near drowning at a splashdown pool at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania when he was five years old. He became an age-group swimmer at Metro Express, a club team at the Jewish Community Center in West Orange, New Jersey under head coach Ed Nessel. Jones later switched teams to the Jersey Gators Swim Club in Cranford.

Jones attended North Carolina State University, where he was an English major and swam for the NC State Wolfpack swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition from 2003 to 2006. He turned professional in the summer of 2006, and further excelled after at the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships where he set a meet record in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.84 seconds. He also swam a leg (split of 47.96) in the world record-breaking 4×100-meter freestyle relay along with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale. In 2007, he also won a gold medal in 4×100-meter freestyle relay with the same teammates in the 2007 World Aquatics Championships.

Jones is the second Black to hold or share a world record (4×100-meter freestyle relay) in swimming, after Anthony Ervin. He is also the third African American to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team after Anthony Ervin and Maritza Correia. In the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, he won a gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay in a world record time of 3:08.24 with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale. In July 2009, Jones set the American record in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the United States Olympic Trials, the qualifying meet for the 2012 Olympics, Jones made the Olympic team for the second time by finishing first in the 50-meter freestyle and second in the 100-meter freestyle, which subsequently qualified him for the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. In the 50-meter freestyle final, Jones won with a time of 21.59, one one-hundredth (0.01) of a second ahead of second-place finisher Anthony Ervin (21.60). . 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, Jones won silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4X100 Freestyle Relay. Jones won a gold medal for the 4X100 medley relay after swimming the freestyle leg in the preliminaries. He also competed in the 100-meter freestyle, but did not qualify for the event finals.

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