I just saw a video of Cullen Jones on the Today Show. A few things stood out to me. One was how far Black History Month has slipped down on my priority list.
I’m pretty sure I dredged up as much black swimming history as I could last year, and posted just about every day in February.
This year, I’ve been focusing on other things. I haven’t meant to neglect the blog, but it has become a casualty of new priorities.
That said, something in the Cullen Jones interview really touched me. The video included a reenactment of his near-drowning incident at the age of 5. Just seeing the water, and hearing Cullen’s recollection of how he saw water, then blacked out made the incident come into focus. It was no longer a statistical blip, but it had been a real, life-changing moment in time.
His mother could have done what so many non-swimming parents do when they come that close to a drowning–she could have tried to keep her child as far from the water as she could, for the rest of his life. Instead, she made the opposite choice. She enrolled him in swim lessons as soon as she could.
Cullen Jones could have just learned to swim, been successfully waterproofed, and gone on with his life. Instead, he caught the bug, and hasn’t let swimming go yet.
I can understand that. Overcoming fear is intoxicating. Then it moved on to something else for Jones. Maybe he had other fears, like losing, or not measuring up and what-not. But more likely, he used the courage gained in learning to swim and ran with it, realizing there was nothing stopping him.
And now he’s doing his part to spread the bug. Some of the children he teaches to swim will be waterproofed and go on with their lives. But some? Lets just say the Olympic pools 15-20 years from now might look a lot darker.