Missy Franklin, Cullen Jones, Rowdy Gaines Appear on Today Show Promoting Water Safety

Missy Franklin Johnson -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Missy Franklin, Cullen Jones, Rowdy Gaines Appear on Today Show Promoting Water Safety

A trio of U.S. Olympic gold medalists appeared on NBC’s Today Show Friday morning to raise awareness of water safety with the summer quickly approaching and to encourage parents to enroll their young children in swim lessons. Missy Franklin JohnsonCullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines appeared on set to discuss the importance of formal swim lessons in order to prevent drowning. All three have been involved in the past with USA Swimming’s Make a Splash tour, which has promoted swim lessons nationwide in underserved communities.

“Even if you don’t have direct access to water right now, water is still going to be a part of your child’s life forever, and we believe that the earlier you can get them in, the better. Even if you don’t have a pool in your backyard and you’re not going every day, the earlier that you can get them in the water, get them used to it, get them comfortable, we just think that’s so important,” Franklin Johnson said.

“Sixty-four percent of Black Americans don’t know how to swim. Fifty-six percent of Latinos don’t know to swim, and 38% of Caucasians don’t know how to swim,” Jones added. “This is a problem all over the U.S. We’ve been doing this for so long that we are just trying to get the message out there: learn to swim, and try to drop these drowning rates.”

Jones, a 2008 and 2012 Olympian who won a pair of gold medals plus two silvers, learned to swim after he nearly drowned at a water park as a young child, and he went on to become one of the most successful African American swimmers ever. Both Jones and future International Swimming Hall-of-Famer Franklin Johnson, won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2012 Olympics and another relay gold four years later, told host Craig Melvin that they began swim lessons with their children (Jones’ son Ayvn and Franklin Johnson’s daughter Caitlin) at six months old.

“As soon as they can walk, they’re going to escape from their parents,” Gaines said, reinforcing the message of early lessons.

Watch the full video below:

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