Cullen Jones was smack dab in the middle of history four years ago when he swam the third leg of Team USA's dramatic, world-record-setting 4x100-meter freestyle relay victory over France (perhaps better known as "Here comes Lezak!").
This year the Charlotte-based swimmer is back for a second go at Olympic gold, starting with his push to make a stacked national team at the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June.
Jones, who works with Make a Splash to help promote water safety for children, took some time out of his loaded training schedule to talk with B/R about life outside the pool.
1. Your teammate, Michael Phelps, recently told ESPN’s Rick Reilly that he’s “sick of the water.” Do you ever feel that way? Does the training become too much?
I actually made myself go on vacation last year. I took my mom and my girlfriend at the time. They all wanted to get in the water and personally, for me, I was not wanting to get wet. That’s my job. I’m on vacation. I just wanted to stay dry.
2. You said you play basketball. Swimmers are a tall breed, so I imagine you’ve got some pretty solid basketball players on Team USA. Two-on-two matchup, what fellow swimmer are you taking into battle with you?
I have the height, so I would probably take Ryan Lochte—because of his athleticism. He’d probably play point guard, and I’d probably play small forward. That would work out pretty well.
3. Do you follow the NBA?
Who’s your team?
New York Knicks. I was born in New York, and my dad kind of beat that into my head.
So I’m making you GM of the Knicks. What are you doing this offseason?
Trying to get everybody healthy. That’s the biggest thing we were plagued with this past year. There were just so many injuries: from Carmelo to Jeremy Lin to Amar'e Stoudemire to Baron Davis. So we’re going to try to stay healthy. I think for next year, if we can be healthy, we’re definitely in the playoffs again, and we’re looking at possibly getting a ring—if we can get everybody together.
4. What do you want to do after swimming?
I’d like to start working in fashion...My parents are huge into clothes and the fashion aspect of presenting yourself well. That’s translated very well with me. I’d like to maybe start my own line.
What kind of clothes are you selling on this line?
Start off with jeans and then build my way up from there. I’ve met a bunch of designers throughout my career of traveling. I’m excited to network with them and hopefully take that next step.
5. You're an NC State guy and in 2008 you were in Beijing with Duke's Coach K. Did you ever slide up next to Coach K and ask him if he could let you guys land some of those recruits?
You know he actually came up and shook my hand because I was [one of two] guys from North Carolina. He wished us luck heading into our next races. It was really cool...a lot of the NBA guys came to our meet. We never asked them to, but they came three times just because they had so much fun watching. We had a very nice camaraderie with the NBA guys.
Did you ever keep up any of those relationships in the interim four years?
Yeah. I’ve done a couple of events with Dwyane Wade in Chicago for Wade’s World. I’ve kept in contact with a couple of people. I’ve met with Carmelo a couple of times. It was a cool experience and I hope to build on it some more in London.
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