Local News

Swimming world record creates splash at N.C. State

Posted August 11, 2008 4:14 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2008 11:32 a.m. EDT

— 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."