It's not often that you get to meet someone who has turned near-tragedy into triumph. Saturday, on the South side of Chicago, four-time Olympic medalist Cullen Jones talked about his mission to save lives.  "At the age of five I almost drowned," said Cullen. That is when his mother enrolled him in swim lessons because she feared losing her only child.

Jones sharing his personal experiences

Jones along with Ric Sweeney (Public Affairs, Phillips 66) and Debbie Hesse (Executive Director, USA Swimming Foundation) came to town to bring a water safety fair to Chicago through the Make A Splash with Cullen Jones Tour presented by Phillips 66.

Chicago-area children and their parents were invited to receive a free swim lesson at the Washington Park Pool with a focus on water safety and basic swimming skills.

Conducting a swim lesson

"Every child in America needs to learn to swim. It is a critical skill that can determine the difference between life and death," said Jones. "Drowning is an epidemic, but it's an epidemic with a cure. That is why I am so proud to be working with Phillips 66 and the USA Swimming Foundation to educate parents, children, and caregivers about the learn-to-swim resources available in their communities. By raising awareness and providing the opportunity for more kids to learn to swim, we are saving lives."

In the metro Chicago area, 10 children have drowned since June 14, according to data collected by doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. In fact, 60-70% of African-American and Hispanic children cannot swim, according to a national research study by USA Swimming and the University of Memphis.

Four-time Olympic medalist, Cullen Jones

In Cullen's case, a near-drowning experience became the catalyst for his triumphs in the 2008 and 2012 Olympiads - earning him two gold-and-two silver medals as a member of the Men's Swim Team in both Beijing and in London.

Demonstrating his skills

When asked about his future endeavors, the humble and affable Jones said he plans on returning to the water (this time in Rio) for the 2016 games. After that he is planning for a career in fashion design. If past performances are any indication of future ones, he will certainly succeed at this, too!

Jones with young admirers

Ric Sweeney (Phillips 66), Jones, Debbie Hesse (USA Swimming Foundation) and White Sox mascot, Southpaw

For more information on how to participate in swim programs in your community, go to or To learn more about Phillips 66 and its work in your community go to


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