Olympic Swimmer Visits Capitol Hill

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Thursday, March 12, 2009; 1:45 PM

Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones yesterday implored lawmakers to put federal and state monies toward what has been a privately financed program to teach swimming skills to inner-city children.

During his morning visit to Capitol Hill, Jones in particular urged lawmakers in his home state of New Jersey to commit funding for the USA Swimming Foundation's "Make a Splash" initiative, which Jones said helped 2,500 inner-city kids in Atlanta learn how to swim last summer.

The four-year-old program, Jones said, has spread to 21 states but its success has been jeopardized by the economic crisis.

Jones, who won a gold medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay in Beijing, learned to swim after nearly drowning at a water park in Irvington, N.J., when he was 5.

"This is something we really want to catch fire and spread throughout the country," Jones said.

--Amy Shipley


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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