Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

Joel Akrie

Joel Akrie

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Cullen Jones spoke to Pittsburgh Obama 6th  grade students on Friday.

If you might not know who Cullen Jones is, he is a U.S. competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who specializes in the freestyle sprint event. He is a part of the American team and he holds the world record in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay (long course). Cullen won a silver medal in the 4×100-meter in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Jones’s drive to Obama reminded him a great deal of his own hometown. He recounted the story of when at the age of 5 his father took he and his mother to a water park. When young Cullen asked his father what ride he was allowed to go on, his father picked the largest one. Cullen was a bit surprised at this because he could not swim. Jones’s mother didn’t want to ride but somehow they talked her into going along.  After instructing his son that he would go first, his mother last (with Cullen in between), he reminded his son, “Whatever you do don’t let go.” As fate would have it, a water park worker’s push was a little too ambitious and Cullen found himself at the bottom of the pool. His mother jumped in right after him to save him, which was a magnificent act in that she couldn’t swim either. Cullen reflected, “that day changed my life” After nearly drowning, Cullen’s mother signed him up for swimming classes the next day.

Soon, Cullen Jones didn’t just know how to swim. He was a winning swim events and eventually became a member of the Olympic team.

Jones inspired the crowd by telling them, “I was the only African American on the team,” but that fact didn’t impair his love of swimming. “Getting in the water is what I loved to do,” he said. “ I didn’t know it would turn into a career. “

Jones also reflected on his Olympic swimming highlights and made note of the night before the meets began in London, when Kobe, LeBron and more NBA players came to congratulate them and wish them well. Kobe was surprised that there was an African American on their team. The point was pretty clear: regardless of color, you can do anything you put your mind to with perseverance and effort.

A series of questions from the Obama students.

Q: As a child what did you picture yourself as doing for a career?

A: I pictured myself as a basketball player or a lawyer

Q: What made you pick this career?

A: I was very competitive at the age of 13-14

Q: Who would you say inspired you the most?

A: My parents and also athletes

Q: What is your biggest achievement in life?

A: My biggest achievement is going to London this year as an Olympian

Q: What would you say to young children who want to make this their career?

A: Anything is possible and dare to be different… go after what you want

Cullen Jones inspired his audience at Obama on Friday. His words made it clear that believing in yourself is essential to reaching your goals and finding your dreams. It is clear that he has a new group of swim fans at Obama.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    The Reality of Gun Violence

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Proud Daughter of Holocaust Survivor Gives Thoughts On the Synagogue Shooting

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    U.S. Senator Bob Casey Answers Our Questions

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    Sports

    James Conner

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    Entertainment

    Pennsylvania Hex

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    School Board Votes Down Guns for Police Officers: An Inside Look

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Obama Students Meet With CMU Professors

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    The Worst Things Bring out the Best of People

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Pittsburgh Grieves for the Dead

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    A Series of Poems About Abuse

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    S.O.A.R.: A Superficial Study

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    S.O.A.R.: An Eagle-Eyed Evaluation

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    The Overlooked Obama Band

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    VEX Robotics: Building a Better Path Towards Our Future

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    “The End of Everything”

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Summer Lee and the Democratic Party’s Journey to the Far Left

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Tyelre Davis’ Point of View

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Welcoming New Obama Teacher: Ms. Duranczyk

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Battling Dragons

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Beginning Band

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Obama Alumna Catherine Pierotti on College, Art Therapy

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Teacher Feature: Mr. Richert

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Marathon, Not a Sprint: The 2018 State of the District

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Student Athletes Of The Month

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    Events

    Official Highschool Survival Tips

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Vote Messiah Wilkerson for WPXI Player of the Week!

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All You Need to Know About...

    All You Need to Know About the NFL Kneeling Rule

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    The Effect of Technology on Teenagers

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Shining a Light on Mental Health

  • Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”

    All Posts

    Teacher Feature: Ms. McKrell

Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies
Olympian Cullen Jones: “Dare to be different”