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Swimming world record creates splash at N.C. State

Posted August 11, 2008
Updated August 12, 2008

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— The presence of a North Carolina State University graduate on the record-setting U.S. men's freestyle relay swimming team created quite a splash Monday among university staff.

Cullen Jones swam the third leg in the Olympic 4x100-meter freestyle finals early Monday in Beijing, and the team shattered the world record – Jones and three other swimmers had set the record in a preliminary heat – and edged out the French team for the gold medal.

"I've still got chill bumps," said Larry Brown, former director of the N.C. State Aquatics Center and an associate professor of physical education. "I was very excited for the Americans, especially Cullen."

Brown said he and other N.C. State staff take enormous pride in Jones' feat.

"Cullen is just a wonderful young man," he said. "He's a quiet leader. He is very quiet and yet he's friendly. He has that unique ability to be very reserved yet very friendly at the same time."

Brown would often film Jones in the pool to help him refine his technique.

"I knew he had potential. He was long and lanky – he was almost too lanky when he first got here," he said. "You could see Cullen's discipline and how much he wanted to win."

Jones' name already adorns the walls around the N.C. State pool as an All-America and national champion swimmer. Swimming coach Brooks Teal said he can't wait to put his name up again as an Olympic champion.

"(I'm) just fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with him. You can coach a long, long time and coach a lot of great swimmers and coach a lot of nice young men and women, and still many coaches go through their whole careers and never get a moment like that," said Teal, who watched the relay finals in Atlantic Beach while on vacation.

"Cullen is just the nicest young man, and to see his dreams come true and to get to be on the podium and to hear the Star Spangled Banner play, I know that's a moment all swimmers dream of and very few get to live it in reality," Teal said.

In addition to the two world records Jones participated in at the Olympics, he also was part of a record-setting relay team at the Pan American Games in 2006. He also became the second African-American swimmer to earn a swimming gold medal.

"You could not have a better example for any race than what Cullen is for African-Americans," Brown said. "He's just a fine young man."

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  • aerolove2k Aug 12, 2008

    3 seconds is 1.6% difference. I believe that the advantages of a 3 degree extra incline and a slick swimsuit that not only prevents sag, but also reduced skin friction is enough to add 1.6% to someones time. Anyway, its not fair to other title holders. There should be a standard and it should be maintained so that records are records.

    As far as the gold medal goes, they sure earned it! Everyone else was on equal footing, my only beef is with the technology used to increase performance rather than sheer strength and ability.

  • Subdivisions Aug 12, 2008

    Phrostbite - Nobody is forcing him to carry anything. He chooses to carry that weight and he's proud to do so.

    aerolove2k - Swimmers today are faster, regardless. But I guess we could all go back to the full body wool swimsuits to make things fair. That'd be exciting.

  • tarheelalum Aug 12, 2008

    Well said kcause! What a great race! I can't even remember the last time I was as excited as after that race!!! It's all about the advancements in physiology research and new training techniques. The suit may shave like 2-3 hundredths of a second...max. Not 4 Seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kcause Aug 12, 2008

    aerolove2k - those guys got the world record by 4 seconds. I don't think 3 degrees and new suits got them a world record by 4 seconds. A lot of swimmers prefer flat blocks; some may be struggling with the extra tilt, so to the say the blocks are helping to create records is, I think, unfair. Although the new suits may help the swimmers to keep their cores from sagging when lethargy sets in, I don't think it's fair to say that the new suits are setting the records either. The sport of swimming is constantly evolving, and swimmers today know a lot more about how to train in the pool and in the weight room to make themselves faster in the water than swimmers 10 years ago did. Take Dara Torres, for example. She's an incredibly fast swimmer, but she never learned the under water dolphin kick off the wall and could be much faster if she could learn it without jeopardizing what she already has going. Swimmers like Phelps and Coughlin today don't think twice about that. Hard work sets records.

  • aerolove2k Aug 11, 2008

    Yea, why dont they call the white people, Eurpean-Americans? No one is really from this country anyway except the Native Americans.

    Setting the world record is unfair anyway. They used slick speedo swimsuits. Also, the starting blocks are now at 10 degree angles when before they were at 7 degrees.

    Its not fair to the previous record holders who didnt have the technology or the extra 3 degree starting block advantage. I'm glad we won the gold, but the World Record business is a bit tainted by technology and non-standardization if you ask me.

  • Kingfish Aug 11, 2008

    We also have a team of "African-Americans" that whipped up on China in their first game. Why was it not pointed out that Kobe and Lebron, and almost every other person involved with the basketball team, are "African-American"??? Is the news media not proud of them, too?!?!

  • Trivr Aug 11, 2008

    Good Grief is right! Congratulations to the team and who cares what color they are!!!! Shame on anyone who feels the need to constantly point out someone's color...as if it matters.

  • Phrostbite Aug 11, 2008

    It would be nice to get beyond attempting to force someone to carry the weight of a race on their shoulders. He's a great swimmer & won the gold medal for his country...let's just leave it at that! Good Grief Charlie Brown!

  • RochesterRedWolf Aug 11, 2008

    i am not african american but hate to be called "white" since i am not "white" nor caucasian since I am not from the Caucasus Mountain Region.

    With that said...

    krisandbruiser - it sure would be nice if we could all just be Americans or even Humans but unfortunately, for those of African descent, they are not thought of that way in the real world of finding housing, jobs or education. So as long as there are a bunch of mentally-challenged racist/evil fools who control all this stuff, it is apt to identify the achievements of "blacks" or hyphenated-americans as exactly that, because they probably had to fight against most of the culture and policies in this country to even get where they are today.

  • mikc727 Aug 11, 2008

    Actually Anthony NESTY was the first black guy to win a gold medal. He is the swimmer from Suriname.

    Anthony Ervin did win a gold, and is 'technically' a black guy I guess. I think his grandfather was black, so he claimed to be of african american descent. Dude looks like a white guy to me though.

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