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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- ConocoPhillips is "pooling" its resources with Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones for the third consecutive year to promote the importance of learning how to swim. The "Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones" will visit six cities, beginning with St. Louis tomorrow.
Jones, a survivor of a near-drowning at age 5, is the first black male to hold a world record in swimming. "Swimming is more than an activity or sport," said Jones. "It is a life skill, just like reading or riding a bike. Every summer, I hear about kids drowning, and in so many cases, it could have been prevented. It is important to me to spread the word about resources available to kids and parents, and to give back to a sport that has given so much to me."
According to a study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, black children drown at nearly a three-time higher rate than Caucasian males in the same age group. More than 60 percent of black and Hispanic children cannot swim, the research showed.
After St. Louis, the tour will visit Portland, Ore., on Aug. 9; Oklahoma City on Aug. 11; Albuquerque, N.M., on Aug. 23; San Antonio on Aug. 25; and Miami on Sept. 1. ConocoPhillips has been a USA Swimming sponsor for 38 years.
More than 3,400 people drown in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.