Olympic Star Helps South Florida Kids Swim Safe - NBC 6 South Florida

Olympic Star Helps South Florida Kids Swim Safe

2008 gold medal winner Cullen Jones is making a splash in Miami

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    Olympic Star Helps South Florida Kids Swim Safe

    Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Cullen Jones spent time at the Hank Kline Boys and Girls Club in Miami on Monday teaching swim safety. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011)

    Drowning is a danger few South Floridians ever think about, though it is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths among children and a study shows minorities face an even higher risk.

    It's why Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Cullen Jones spent time at the Hank Kline Boys and Girls Club in Miami on Monday.

    "This is something that's natural for me," Jones said. "I can really tell people this is important."

    Sixty to 70 percent of African-American and Hispanic children don't know how to swim, according to a study by USA Swimming.

    The shocking statistic inspired Jones to become the face of the 'Make A Splash Tour,' USA Swimming's campaign teaching kids across America about the importance of swim safety.  The program also offers free or low-cost lessons.

    Jones nearly drowned himself when he was 5 years old after flipping over on a water slide.  Luckily, a lifeguard saved him and his mother immediately enrolled him in swim lessons.

    "I could've died that day," he said, admitting he still thinks about the feeling of drowning when he gets in the pool today. He says it helps him relate to children who have a hard time overcoming their fear of the water.

    "A lot of people have to get over that hurdle," Jones explained. "I did, and it's very easy to do. It's just getting swim lessons."