In 2007, Cullen Jones spoke to Trans World Sport about his dreams of more diversity in swimming and other sports and aiming to break a world record, which he eventually did a year later as part of USA’s 4x100m freestyle relay team along with Michael Phelps, Neil Walker and Jason Lezak at the Beijing Olympics.
Growing up in New Jersey was not the most comfortable of situations. I didn’t grow up in suburbia, I did grow up in an urban section of New Jersey but there was a lot of gang-related activity. There were a lot of drug use and there was no place for a swimmer to grow up […] I was seen as different because I wasn’t playing football and basketball. There was a lot of things that I went through with criticism from parents; not so much the swimmers more the parents and I kind of blacked it out and just kind of continued.
After success in 2008, Cullen won silver medals in the 50m freestyle and the 4×100m freestyle relay and a gold medal in the 4×100m medley relay.
If you enjoyed that interview, you should check out his chat with Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sport where he discussed discrimination and his work with USA Swimming’s “Make a Splash” program.