Industry News: Jones Signs With Nike, Promotes Diversity in Swimming

RALEIGH, North Carolina, August 30. CULLEN Jones, a three-time All-American swimmer out of North Carolina State University and a recent ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Champion, signed a multi-year contract with Nike, Inc., through 2012. As per Nike policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are excited to partner with such an outstanding young man, both in the pool and in the community,” Nike Director of Olympic Sports Marketing Christie Farin said. “Cullen is a world-class athlete who competes at the highest level and we look forward to a strong partnership both in the pool and in the community.”

Currently ranked number one in the world in the 50-meter freestyle, Jones also has proven himself to be the fastest African American swimmer in the world beating his own 50-meter freestyle time in the Pan Pacific games this past weekend in Victoria, British Columbia. Jones also helped set a world record in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay in just his third international competition.

Aside from competition, Jones hopes to promote youth swimming by participating in diversity outreach programs and swim clinics as well as create scholarships for underprivileged kids to pay for swim lessons, club dues and other items necessary to introduce the benefits of swimming.

“NIKE has provided me the opportunity to develop as an athlete and a person,” Jones said. “When I evaluated who could help me both in chasing my dream of representing the U.S. in the Olympics and being able to speak out to the African-American and Hispanic communities about the importance of water safety, drowning prevention and learning to swim, I felt that Nike had the best access to a platform where I can reach millions of kids and deliver this message. The thought of joining Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong in the Nike family is awe inspiring.”

“Cullen’s coming of age in the pool was the perfect storm,” Jones’ agent Evan Morgenstein said. “He wins NCAAs in the 50 freestyle, is named Atlantic Coast Conference Swimmer of the Year, wins an individual medal at Short Course World Championships and then goes on to win U.S. Nationals and qualifies for the Pan Pacific and World Championship teams in 2006 and 2007. When the pressure was on, Cullen proved he could swim with anyone in the world. His potential is limitless and his passion for helping underprivileged kids shows his remarkable character. Cullen is a class act.”

Jones joins Nike’s Maritza Correia – the first female black American to make a U.S. Olympic team and also the first female black American to medal at the 2004 Athens Games – in her continued support for diversity in swimming. Following the Pan Pacific Championships, Jones plans to visit schools and community centers in the Raleigh area where he currently resides.