Jones to Kick off Water Safety Tour in Houston


Just in time for spring break, ConocoPhillips and the USA Swimming Foundation will bring Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer, Cullen Jones, to Houston to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim. The event, scheduled for March 7, marks the kickoff of the 2012 Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones presented by ConocoPhillips, a six-city national water safety tour designed to educate parents, kids and communities about the importance of learning to swim.

"Every child in America needs to learn how to swim. It is a critical skill that can determine the difference between life and death in a matter of seconds," said Jones, the first African-American male to hold a world record in swimming. "Drowning is an epidemic, but it's an epidemic with a cure. That is why I am so proud to be working with ConocoPhillips and the USA Swimming Foundation to educate parents, children and caregivers about the learn-to-swim resources available in their communities. By raising awareness and providing the opportunity for more kids to learn to swim, we are saving lives."

Olympian Comes to Town
In Houston, Jones will lead a youth rally with approximately 320 children at Buffalo Creek Elementary School. He will share his personal story about nearly drowning when he was five and discuss the impact the sport has had on his life, including his Olympic journey. Additionally, all first and second graders of Buffalo Creek Elementary will receive a full session of free swimming lessons at Clay Road Family YMCA, courtesy of the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips. The Houston tour stop will also include a semi-private swim lesson for several local kids at Clay Road Family YMCA.

"The USA Swimming Foundation is dedicated to saving lives and building champions, and by raising awareness about the importance of learning to swim and providing the opportunity for kids to take lessons, we are absolutely saving lives," said Debbie Hesse, executive director of the USA Swimming Foundation. "To date, more than 1.1 million kids have taken lessons through our Make a Splash initiative, and we've reached millions of parents with the message of learn-to-swim. We are grateful to ConocoPhillips, who has made such a difference nationally and in Houston specifically, and to Cullen Jones for his passion in spreading this important message."

ConocoPhillips has partnered with USA Swimming for 39 years, and the Make a Splash Tour is a natural extension of the company's comprehensive commitment to safety. "Our annual support of the Make a Splash Tour embodies the company's focus on safety by reaching out to parents across the nation to build awareness of this important safety issue, and by giving thousands of children the opportunity to learn a valuable life-saving skill," said Kristi DesJarlais, manager, Corporate Brand and Community Investment, ConocoPhillips.

Sobering Drowning Statistics
Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. Drowning is also a silent killer—most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to the Present P. Child Drowning study.

Furthermore, 60-70 percent of African-American and Hispanic children cannot swim, and only 13 percent of kids who come from a non-swimming household will ever learn to swim, according to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis. African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers, the CDC reports.

In 2012, Jones will visit a total of six cities to promote the availability of free or discounted swimming lessons or water safety education, providing kids access to life-saving swimming skills, regardless of their ethnic or economic background. 

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