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Congrats, Cullen!

From the Newark Star-Ledger:

When Cullen Jones touched the wall, the Qwest Center, which, for him, had become the Dream Quest Center, erupted. Last night, thunderous cheers shook the place almost as roughly as the frightful storm that ripped huge chunks of siding off the arena last Friday night.

And, in Lane 6, the guy who swam with the weight of the world on his shoulders for two laps in these U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, broke into a wide grin. Jones, who finished third in the 100-meter freestyle final with a time of 48.35, is an Olympian and a member of the 4x100 relay team.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Yet perhaps no development had broader ramifications than the emergence of Cullen Jones on the 100 relay team after finishing third in the 100 free.

Jones is just the second African-American male to make the U.S. Swim team, and he has chosen to embrace that role in ways that predecessor Anthony Ervin did not in 2000. Among the reasons Jones has sought the spotlight is the chance to encourage minorities to learn to swim.

"I'm not trying to get the next Michael Phelps. I'm not trying to get someone to fill my shoes," said Jones, 24, who noted that minorities are three times more susceptible to drowning and added, "At the age of 5, I was almost a statistic by drowning myself. So I think it's very important just to get the word out."

It took getting the lead out first. Four years ago, Jones felt emotionally overwhelmed and swam as if he had "an anvil" attached to his leg. This time, he swam his three best times ever.

"I don't think I had an anvil on my leg," said Jones, smiling and noting his best event, the 50 free, still is ahead.

Jones set a new American record in the 50m prelims earlier today.