Greensboro, NC-- Some Olympic Gold medalists spent time Greensboro on Tuesday talking to teenagers before they begin their youth swimming competition.
Joey Cheek and Cullen Jones spoke to the more than 1,500 registered YMCA swimmers on Tuesday to help kick off the YMCA Short Course National Championships that's going to be held Wednesday, April 3 through Saturday, April 6 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Jones swam collegiately at NC State was the guest speaker at the YMCA's Athlete Welcome Party in the Pavilion. Prior to his speech, Jones took time to sign autographs for swimmers.
Short Course is traditionally the largest youth swimming national championship in the United States, that boasts more than 200 Ys competing for titles in 42 events, " The 2012 Championship in Greensboro featured 213 teams representing 27 states, resulting in an estimated economic impact of more than $6.5 million to the local economy.
Although, Joey Cheek's medals were in speed skating during the Winter Olympics he was able to offer advice and encouragment on being a disciplined athlete.
"Football, baseball and basketball usually get all the coverage so to see these sports get the focus is great. I'm looking forward to seeing the next Olympic hopefuls."
Cheek is a Greensboro native who attended Dudley High School.
His medals: Bronze medal in 2003 in Salt Lake City in the 1,000 meters and in 2003 when he won a bronze medal at the World Single Distance Championships in Berlin in the 1,000- and 1,500-meter events. Both distances at that tournament were won by Dutch speed skater Erben Wennemars. In 2005, Cheek made the podium for the first time in the World Sprint Championships, again behind Wennemars.
On January 22, 2006, in Heerenveen, Cheek became world sprint champion. On aggregate he beat Dmitry Dorofeyev of Russia and Jan Bos of the Netherlands.
At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Cheek won the men's 500-meter event in dominating style, recording a two-run total time of 1:09.76. That time was 0.65 seconds faster than runner-up Dorofeyev, and Cheek was the only competitor to break the 35-second mark in the competition, doing so in both of his runs (34.82 and 34.94). Cheek's time in the first 500-meter race is an unofficial world record for the fastest 500 meters ever at an ice rink at sea level. He went on to win silver in the 1,000-meter race, finishing just behind teammate Shani Davis.
Cullen Jones Bio
Cullen Jones has been determined to break the stereotype that black people cannot swim since almost drowning at a Pennsylvania water park at the age of five. He is the first African-American to break a world record as well as win a gold medal at the World University Games when he was a student at North Carolina State University. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Cullen became the second African-American to win swimming Gold as a part of the world-record shattering 4x100m Freestyle relay team.
In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Cullen added to his relay Gold from Beijing with two Silver medals and a Gold medal, including an individual Silver medal in his specialty 50m Freestyle. He is currently looking ahead to 2016 and his first individual Olympic Gold.
He currently serves as an ambassador for USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash program, traveling the country to provide free swim lessons to children of all ages. The program focuses on teaching children and minorities to swim and the importance of water safety and drowning prevention.
- Two-time Olympian (2008, 2012)
- Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist
- Four-time Olympic Medalist
- 2007 World Champion
- NCAA Champion
- Four-time ACC Champion
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