(October 28, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Olympic Gold Medalist to visit Centenary Nov. 10

"Make a Splash with Cullen Jones" to raise awareness of importance of learning to swim

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) — Following the tragic drowning deaths of six teenagers in Shreveport earlier this year, Olympic gold medalist and African-American swimmer Cullen Jones and USA Swimming Foundation will visit the city, including Centenary College on Wednesday, Nov. 10 to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim.

Cullen Jones
Cullen Jones

Cullen along with three time Olympic gold medalist, Rowdy Gaines, will speak to the community at a breakfast held at the College beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Whited Room of Bynum Commons. He will speak about life-saving learn to swim programs, his personal story of near-drowning and what it took for him to later become an Olympic champion. While the event is free and open to the public, there is limited seating and it is required to RSVP (contact information below). Later, Cullen will speak directly to hundreds of children at a youth assembly and then give a swim lesson as part of the team's efforts to shine a light on water safety and save lives.

The visit is part of "Make a Splash with Cullen Jones, presented by ConocoPhillips," a six city event series focused on the statistics and factors impacting a child's ability to swim and educating families about solutions to the drowning epidemic, including the availability of free or low cost swimming lessons in hundreds of cities across the country. In addition to Shreveport, "Make a Splash with Cullen Jones" will visit five other cities this year — Omaha, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Santa Ana, Calif., and New York.

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. In 2008 he became the second African-American in history to win an Olympic Gold medal in swimming.


7:30 — 8:30AM — Breakfast with community leaders regarding building more learn to swim programs in Shreveport; Cullen Jones is keynote speaker*
Centenary College: Whited Room — 2911 Centenary Blvd., Shreveport, La 71104

10:30AM — 11:30AM — Youth assembly
Creswell Elementary — 2901 Creswell Ave., Shreveport, La

11:45AM — 12:15PM — Cullen gives five children a swim lesson
Centenary College: Pool - 2911 Centenary Blvd., Shreveport, La 71104

* The breakfast event is free and open to the public, however seating is limited. Contact Guillermo Rojas at grojas@usaswimming.org or 719-866-4573 to attend.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 373 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.