[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
50°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
February 25
1936 - U.S. release of Charles Chaplin film "Modern Times," partially shot in SCV [story]


Commentary by Gloria Locke
| Sunday, Oct 6, 2013

glorialockeFilled to capacity, the restaurant buzzed with commotion while camera flashes exploded in the dimly lit dining area of Buca di Beppo in Anaheim. Among the prestigious CEOs, directors, USA Swimming presidents, lifeguards, Olympic hopefuls and Olympic medalists sat a 6-year-old Santa Clarita swimmer who traveled more than 120 miles to have lunch with Olympic swimming icon Cullen Jones.

Jones is one of the fastest freestyle sprinters in the world today and holds the current American record in the 50m freestyle. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he was a member of the electrifying 400m freestyle relay team that broke the world record and won Olympic gold in one of the most memorable races in history.

With the victory, Cullen became the second African American to win an Olympic swimming gold medal. In 2012, Cullen competed in the London Olympic Games, where he secured a silver medal in the 400m freestyle relay and garnered his first individual Olympic medal in the 50m freestyle.

Philly, a first-grader at Rio Vista Elementary and a beginning swimmer at Academy Swim Club of Valencia, joined swim club owner Nikki Miller during the USA Swimming Foundation’s annual luncheon, hosted by Olympic gold medalists Rowdy Gaines and Jones.

The writer interviews Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones.

The writer interviews Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones.

“Drowning is an epidemic in our nation,” said Gaines, a three-time Olympic medalist and USA Swimming Foundation ambassador. “Since 2006 the USA Swimming Foundation, through its Make a Splash initiative, has taught more than 2.5 million children to learn to swim, and to be safer around the water.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people drown each day in the United States.

Additionally, a national research study commissioned by the USA Swimming Foundation and conducted by the University of Memphis found:

* 70 percent of African American children have low or no swimming ability;

* 60 percent of Latino children have low or no swimming ability;

* 40 percent of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability;

* Ten people drown each day in the United States.

Ironically, Jones ad nearly drowned at age 5 while visiting a water park with his family.

“My dad wanted to get on the biggest ride at the amusement park. I came down the ride after my dad and hit the bottom where I was supposed to gently coast to the other side. I was so small, I flipped upside down. My mom hears my screams and then silence. She gains ‘superhuman strength’ and comes down the ride after me. She could not swim. So here we are. I’m drowning on the left. My mom is drowning on the right. After we were pulled from the water, I needed full resuscitation,” Jones said.

Jones, now 29, holds two Olympic gold medals and two silver medals.

The sport of swimming has been a part of the Olympic Games since inception in 1896 and is only one of five sports to compete in each Olympics. The United States has been the No. 1 swimming nation in the world more than 50 years.

“I want a gold medal. How can I be like you?” Philly asked as he searched Cullen for an Olympic-sized answer.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Cullen said. “You’ve got to train a lot and listen to your coach.”

Gaines also acknowledged the accolades of luncheon guest Debbie Meyer – the first swimmer in history to win three gold medals in three individual events: the 200m, 400m and 800m free during the 1968 Olympic Games when she was 16. She held 25 world records during her career.

Meyer is also familiar with a near-drowning experience.

“My 18-month-old daughter was sitting on the side of the spa,” she said. “I had my back to the spa and some little kid in the spa knocked her in. I did not know it. All of a sudden I hear her scream, and she is trying to hold on to somebody to come up. It is the scariest, scariest feeling.”

Miller, a former SCV diving coach, was compelled to open Academy Swim Club and establish the Aquatic Safety Awareness Program after a near double-drowning.

“My husband and I had gone out to lunch. After the babysitter left, I looked outside and there is a pile of wet clothes by the spa and vomit all over the deck of the spa. I asked my oldest son (age 3) what happened. He said the babysitter was on the phone when my 14-month-old toddler fell in. He said, ‘God just told me to go get him.’ So my 3-year-old went in to get him.”

As a USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner, Academy Swim Club has facilitated water safety events and provided year-round water safety training for infants, children and adults in Santa Clarita. Philly and his siblings began taking formal swim lessons at the Academy after Philly saw his 3-year-old brother jump into a crowded community pool unassisted, escaping the notice of the adults around the pool. After one swimming lesson at the Academy, Philly announced that he wanted to work there.

“I was 17 years old when I started swimming,” said Gaines. “It’s never too late to achieve your dream. If a child takes a swim lesson, that child’s chance of drowning is reduced by 88 percent.”

Jones agreed. “My mom was terrified of the water, but she went against the grain and got me swim lessons. You don’t see that in every family and that is what we want to change.”

“Kids have to know how to swim,” he said, “because they are going to get near water at some point. And as long as I have air in my lungs, I’m going to continue to spread this word because there is a cure to the drowning epidemic. Drowning is preventable.”

Beaming, Philly left the restaurant to return to Santa Clarita. “Cullen is the best,” he grinned, holding onto the indelible gold-medal memory of his lunch with Cullen Jones.

 

Gloria Locke is a Santa Clarita resident and producer of “SCV-Arts & Entertainment,” which airs Fridays and Sundays on SCVTV.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Aquatic Safety Awareness Progr says:

    Thank you SCVNews for an inspiring and informative report. Cullen Jones has taken his near-drowning experience to transform him into an Olympic star while saving lives through water safety awareness. Glad we have an SCV swimmer taking notes:)

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Feb 15, 2018
There was broad public support for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which struck a careful balance between lands available for large-scale renewable energy development and the environment. Now the federal government is rethinking it - putting the important and much-needed protections at risk.
Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018
You can prevent vision loss by finding and treating problems early. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once every 12 months for people at high risk for glaucoma
Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018
Sierra Club Angeles Chapter SCV Group Chair Sandra Cattell urges Santa Clarita Valley residents to contact their congressional representatives to push legislation to kill the Cemex mining project in Soledad Canyon.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin highlights the city's customer service efforts in his message for February 2018.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
If the Department of the Interior is successful in destroying this national monument, the next one slated for destruction is Grand Staircase-Escalante, then Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument along the California-Oregon border.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
Here’s what is happening on February 24: a rally to organize students in the Los Angeles Unified School District "against" the highly effective Los Angeles School Police Department.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1936 - U.S. release of Charles Chaplin film "Modern Times," partially shot in SCV [story]
1956 - Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Murray born in Los Angeles; later SCV resident & car dealer [story]
Santa Clarita Studios debuted their new production offices to industry peers, business leaders and public officials on Friday.
Santa Clarita Studios Scores ABC Show, Debuts New Production Offices
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is Wednesday, February 284 at the Administrative Center, 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita 91350.
Feb. 28: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
California State University, Northridge’s Criminology and Justice Studies Department will host a discussion titled “Does More Immigration Mean More Crime?” on Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Feb. 27 CSUN Discussion: ‘Does More Immigration Mean More Crime?’
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a man and a woman on multiple weapons and drug charges in Castaic early Thursday, according to station officials.
Tip Leads to Arrest of 2 on Multiple Gun, Drug Charges
The California Department of Education has released new guiding principles for teaching social and emotional skills, to help educators ensure students have the skills for success in school, careers and in the community.
State Education Department Sets New Social Emotional Learning Guidelines
Spring 2018 is an exciting time for composer, sound artist and CalArts alumna Ellen Reid (Music MFA 11) as two of her works make their debut with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale.
LACO, LA Master Chorale to Debut New Works by Ellen Reid
LA-based artist and CalArts grad Edgar Arceneaux (Art MFA 01) performed his award-winning, critically acclaimed theatrical work "Until, Until, Until…" in three sold-out shows this week in San Francisco.
Edgar Arceneaux’s ‘Until, Until, Until…’ Sells Out 3 SF Performances
CalArtians were out in full force at last month's 33rd annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which ran January 18-28.
CalArts Well Represented at Sundance Film Festival 2018
Four furry, four-legged detection devices assigned to the LA County Sheriff's Department's Operation Safe Streets Bureau have been selected to receive tactical body armor.
LASD ‘Safe Streets’ K9s to Get Protective Vests
Gael García Bernal, Mary J. Blige, Andra Day, Natalia LaFourcade, Miguel, Keala Settle, Sufjan Stevens and Oscar winner Common will perform this year's nominated songs at the 90th Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 4.
Academy Unveils 90th Oscars Song Performers Lineup
Democratic gubernatorial candidates vying to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in November debated in San Diego Thursday night how to maintain the Golden State’s strict gun laws and reduce poverty.
California Gubernatorial Candidates Take on Poverty, Gun Control
"SCVTV Presents: An Evening With New West" Friday, February 23 at The MAIN in Old Town Newhall as the award-winning trio brings their signature brand of Western ballads, story songs and cowboy swing to entertain fans in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Feb. 23: SCVTV to Present ‘Evening With New West’ at MAIN
Santa Clarita Valley Water Company officials will hold a meeting of the company's Outreach and Legislation Committee on Wednesday, March 21 at 5:30 p.m.
March 21: SCV Water Public Outreach, Legislation Committee Meeting
The 40th annual St. Clare Lenten Fish Fry charity fundraiser continues at the Canyon Country church on Friday, February 23 from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and for the next four Friday evenings.
Feb. 23: St. Clare 40th Annual Lenten Fish Fry for Charity
A 17-year-old West Ranch High School student was arrested Thursday and charged with making criminal threats on social media.
West Ranch Student Charged with Making Criminal Threats
California's and New Mexico's Attorneys General, together with the California Air Resources Board, have secured a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's suspension of the methane gas Waste Prevention Rule.
Judge Blocks Feds’ Suspension of Methane Waste Prevention Rule
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station pulled over a vehicle on Castaic Lake Road for a traffic violation on Tuesday afternoon and discovered the male adult passenger had a $30,000 warrant out for his arrest.
Man Arrested for Warrant, Alleged ID Theft in Castaic
DMV investigators issued 29 misdemeanor citations during an enforcement operation in Sun Valley and Pacoima on February 22 aimed at combating unlicensed vehicle dismantlers.
DMV Cites Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Sunland, Pacoima
The 10 year anniversary of the Val Verde African American Heritage Celebration will take place Saturday Feb. 24th, from 12:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Val Verde Park.
Feb. 24: Val Verde African American Heritage Celebration
1998 - Worst day of record-setting 1997-98 El Nino storm season [story]
A Spring Concert with the Golden Valley High School Jazz Band will be held at the school's theater Sunday, Mar. 25.
Mar. 25: Golden Valley High School Jazz Band Spring Concert
Hidden cultural gems from Mexico and El Salvador will be uncovered during a lecture series at California State University, Northridge, hosted by the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center.
CSUN Lecture Series to Highlight Hidden Cultural Gems
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's Engineering Committee will be meeting on Thursday, Mar. 1, at 5:30 p.m.
March 1: SCV Water Agency Engineering Committee Meeting
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its Regular Meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 6:00 p.m.
Feb. 27: City Council Regular Meeting
The Sulphur Springs Union School District was recognized Wednesday evening with the Operation School Bell Award given by the National Assistance League.
Sulphur Springs Schools Lauded by Assistance League
Earlier today, the Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School was on lockdown as deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station investigated an unconfirmed threat. The lockdown has since been lifted and a 15-year-old suspect was charged with making Criminal Threats. The following is a breakdown from the Facebook page of the SCV Sheriff's Station:
SCVi Charter Student Charged with Making Criminal Threats
Carousel Ranch Raising Funds for “Carousel Wishes and Valentine Kisses” Annual Giving Campaign Carousel Ranch, a place where children with special needs discover and experience some of their greatest achievements through equestrian therapy and vocational training programs, is reaching out to the donor community during its “Carousel Wishes and Valentine Kisses” annual giving campaign.
Carousel Ranch Seeks to Fund Scholarships for Wait-List Students
College of the Canyons has added more than 100 late-start classes to its spring 2018 semester class schedule to accommodate the needs of working students.
Spring Brings More Late-Start Class Options to COC
Deputies at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station are currently investigating an unconfirmed threat at the Santa Clarita Valley International School.
Lockdown Lifted at SCVi Charter School
The kids are back for Season Six of Masterchef Junior, featuring award-winning chefs Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi, as well as the return of fan-favorite judge Joe Bastianich.
Newhall Student Vies for Apron on Masterchef Junior
The William S. Hart Baseball Complex was vandalized early Sunday morning. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station was able to apprehend the suspect with the help of surveillance video. Here is the breakdown from the Facebook page of the SCV Sheriff's Station.
Suspect Detained in Connection with Vandalism at Hart Baseball Field
LOS ANGELES – The County Interim Health Officer is issuing a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures. Wind chill temperatures are expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold Weather Alert Issued for SCV
1983 - Armed robber taken out at Alpha Beta supermarket on Lyons [story]
The Master's University Mustangs baseball team added to their recent string of come-from-behind wins with a 9-5 comeback win over the University of Antelope Valley at Master's.
Mustangs Rally Again, This Time Against Antelope Valley