Laps of a Different Sort for USA Olympic Swimmer

Olympian Cullen Jones in South Florida

2008 Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Cullen Jones addressed nearly 100 children during an assembly promoting water safety at the Hank Kline Boys and Girls Club in Miami before coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway for "hot laps" (photo courtesy: GroundFloor Media)

Cullen Jones helped the United States win the gold medal in the 4x100 meter relay at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Jones swam two laps in that memorable race but he traveled considerably faster during the course of his visit to South Florida Monday afternoon. Jones took a few laps of a different nature on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval where this fall NASCAR will crown champions in all three of its top national divisions—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series— the weekend of Nov. 18-20, 2011.

“We’re glad that Cullen was able to take time away from his busy schedule and come down,” Track President Matthew Becherer said. “We were cheering for him in 2008 and we’re still behind him considering what he’s doing for children and water safety.”

Before taking to the 1.5-mile oval with 18- to 20-degree variable banking, Jones was in Miami for the final stop of the 2011 Make a Splash with Cullen Jones Event Series presented by ConocoPhillips. Jones addressed nearly 100 children during an assembly promoting water safety at the Hank Kline Boys and Girls Club. The USA Swimming Foundation, in conjunction with the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and world record-setter shared the importance of learning how to swim.

“This initiative is really important to me,” said Jones. "I learned how to swim, because when I was five years old, I almost drowned. Every summer these tragedies happen and we talk about how they could have been prevented; yet every year the statistics remain the same. I am committed to a real solution and with the help of USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative and ConocoPhillips, we can do it."

In its third year, the Make a Splash Tour promotes the life-saving message of learning to swim and reinforces the importance of water safety throughout the country. After the assembly, it was on to Homestead-Miami Speedway for “hot laps” with Homestead-Miami Speedway Director of Operations, Jay Donnay. Though Donnay did not quite reach race speeds, Jones left with a better appreciation of what it's like to race on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I live in Charlotte, so NASCAR is nothing new to me,” said Jones. “This track is awesome and you can really feel the banking. I want to come back for the Championships.”

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