Jones' parents made sure he was very comfortable in water after that, enrolling him in another set of swim lessons. Eventually, Jones became an NCAA champion and a world-class swimmer. He would not be the first black to make the U.S. Olympic team if he does earn a spot, but he is the first U.S. black male to hold a world record (as part of a record-setting 400 U.S. team). He also is likely the only one with a tattoo of "41" on his back to honor his late father, a non-smoker who wore that number in college and died in 2000 of lung cancer.
Recruited by N.C. State, Jones starred for the Wolfpack and then kept training under coach Brooks Teal after his collegiate eligibility was over. But when the Olympics loomed, Jones decided to come to Charlotte to join the elite team Marsh has assembled at Mecklenburg Aquatic Club.
"I would never bash the people at N.C. State," Jones said. "They were great. I just needed to move somewhere where I was the new guy and there weren't 30 of my friends saying, `Hey, let's go out tonight.' I don't need to have a life right now. I need to buckle down."