Cullen Jones was born in the Bronx borough of New York City. When he was a boy, his family located to Irvington, New Jersey and at the age of five he almost drowned at a water park. Following the near-death encounter, his mother enrolled him in swimming lessons, and he soon excelled in the pool.
Cullen earned a scholarship to North Carolina State University where he went on to become a four-time ACC Champion as well as an NCAA champion. In 2008, Cullen qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the 4x100m relay, and he swam the 3rd leg of the spectacular come-from-behind race. This would cement Cullen’s place in Olympic history by being only the second African American to win swimming Gold and by being part of the world record breaking relay team. In July 2009, Cullen established an American record in the 50m with a time of 21.40 seconds which still holds as the best time in U.S. history. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Cullen added to his medal count with a Gold and 2 Silvers, including an individual Silver medal in his specialty, 50m Freestyle. He is currently training for the 2016 Olympics.
In his free time, Cullen is an Ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Tour. Dedicated to raising national awareness about the importance of learning to swim, Cullen travels across the country and teaches swim lessons to inner city children.