Road to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

Olympians help Sigma Gamma Rho, USA Swimming with lifesaving project

SWIM1922 is working with black children as part of Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl service initiative

It’s getting loud in the pool at the East Lake Family YMCA in Southeast Atlanta, which means Cullen Jones is in a bit of a struggle to get the attention of kids who have filled the water. That leaves him with no other course than to shout the words that always draw the focus in his direction:

“I just say, ‘Hey, I have gold medals,’ ” Jones said. “When I say that, they tend to listen.”

The kids from the Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta were at the YMCA to get swimming tips from Jones (who has two swimming gold medals, and two silvers from the 2012 and 2008 Olympics) and Maritza McClendon (a silver medal winner in swimming during the 2004 games) during a service event hosted by USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho as part of the sorority’s SWIM 1922 initiative to encourage African-American youths to swim. Friday’s event was part of the celebration of service events as part of the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

More than 60 kids were lucky enough to get swimming tips during Friday’s two-hour event.

Both Jones and McClendon hope that the advice they gave can be put to good use.

At the end I always say, ‘what did you learn today?’ ” Jones said. “Everybody said they learned something. So in that regard, it was a success.”