New York

Swimming Surprise for YMCA Swimmers

Picture by Brandon Stanton, Cullen Jones at YMCA

Young swimmers on the Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA swim team got a great surprise recently. That’s because Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Cullen Jones came by to offer them encouragement.

Teaching the Kids

A Bronx native, Jones gave the swimmers a lesson about using power kicks, stretching techniques and more, while the 46 young swimmers sat enamored of him.   As Jones, who took his gold medal in freestyle relay at the 2008 Olympics said,   “We were working on flip turns and kicking. I think the team is awesome. You’ve got a lot of bright kids.

Jones continued by saying,

“For me, especially being African American and seeing kids learning to swim is definitely a breath of fresh air. You’ve got kids who are really talented. It’s kind of cool…to come to a team that’s such a melting pot, and they’re loving it, they’re enjoying it.”

Excitement All Around

The kids were, of course, quite excited as well. Team captain Laliah Thompson said, “It’s great to see an ordinary person that looks like us do extraordinary things. If he can make it, we can too.”

Caitlin Hackett, who is hoping to make it to the statewide competitions this year, said, “When I saw him during the Olympics, I was very happy that he won. Then I saw him in person. I got star struck. I was excited, overjoyed.”


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)