February – month two of a brand new golden year, giving us new reasons to be grateful, new reasons to reflect, and new reasons to do what we do best – Celebrate! This month, both in and outside of our schools, we’re celebrating Black History Month by diving into diversity and inclusivity. And who better to join us than someone who passionately promotes and encourages inclusivity with everything he does for the sport of swimming: Olympic Swimmer, father and Goldfish Brand Ambassador, Cullen Jones!

Through our partnership and friendship with Cullen, we’ve learned a lot about the reasons behind his ‘Why’ – why he does what he does, and why he continues to be an advocate for others. Through his own experiences and growing up in the sport of swimming, Cullen wasn’t often surrounded by other swimmers that looked like him, and was encouraged to make waves of change in the sport that would promote diversity and inclusion in the sport and beyond.

Dive in deeper with Cullen and Matt Jones, Assistant General Manager of Goldfish Swim School – Birmingham, on the topic of Diversity in the Sport of Swimming!

One of Cullen’s ‘Whys’ is the Startling Statistics.

Historically, stereotypes, discrimination and lack of access to pools, regardless of economic status, have kept people of color out of the water.

While always a threat to those who don’t know how to swim, it’s extremely important that we do all we can to reduce the risk of drowning by helping to provide water safety information and access to swim lessons for all children.

The lack of access is directly linked to the staggering statistics, such as 70% of African Americans were unable to swim in 2017. That’s a percentage Cullen is passionate about changing for the better – and he has! Through his work with the USA Swimming Foundation and by spreading the word about water safety and the importance of swim lessons, Cullen is proud to see the stats reduced from 70% to 64% in 2018 – a wave of progress in just a short amount of time!

Making Waves for Water Safety

Cullen has made it his personal mission to help others learn to swim. He’s strongly focusing on bridging the minority gap that exists to help to create diversity in his favorite sport. Cullen sits on the Board of Directors for the USA Swimming Foundation, who’s Learn-to-Swim grant funding program helps to provide access to swim lessons for both children and adults, preventing the inability to pay from being the reason they can’t learn the water safety skills they need to be safer in and around the water. The initiative aligns perfectly with Cullen’s goal of ensuring every child has the opportunity to learn to swim.

Cullen helps to reinforce the statement – just one person can make a difference – as he makes a huge difference in the sport and the world of swimming as a role model and a wavemaker! But, we don’t want it to be on the shoulders of just one person (though he does have Olympian shoulders!). It’s our goal and our hope that others will get involved to help and to make a difference in their own communities. That could be donating to the USA Swimming Foundation’s efforts, talking about water safety and swim lessons to spark the conversation, or just simply asking yourselves ‘How can we help?’!

We asked ourselves that very question and we continue to ask to ensure we’re always putting our best fin forward to support and encourage those around us to spread the word about water safety. By teaming up with Cullen and other advocates, we believe we can work together to make big waves in diversity and inclusivity, one swimmer and one initiative at a time!

Be sure to follow Cullen on Instagram to watch him continue to make waves for water safety, raise his son Avyn to be a healthy, happy little human, and continue to follow his passion for the sport of competitive swimming in new ways!