Julio Zarate, CrossFitting Swimmer and Painter?!

How awesome is this picture?  Meet Julio Zarate, swim coach for St Mary’s College, CrossFitter, and painter extraordinaire!  Yup, this guy never ceases to surprise his CrossFit community.  Before we get into a bit of his story, check out this dude’s artwork- its awesome!  Julio Paints

So it goes without saying that Julio is a great athlete, but here is a little bit about his history in swimming, how he stumbled upon CrossFit, and what it has done for him and his athletes:

“I was a competitive swimmer for about 12 years. I swam on a club team the produced some of the greatest male swimmers of all time including 3 different world record holders. I was a team record holder on that team and just missed Olympic Trials in 2000 summer after my senior year of High School.  I just learned about CrossFit about a year and a half ago when doing research on strength and conditioning programs for my swimmers.  After the first day I knew I had stumbled on to something great. The rest, as they say, is history.

I joined CrossFit PAX after getting my level one cert. Prior to the certification class I had never set foot in a CrossFit gym or had done a ‘wod’ in a group. The Level 1 certification put on by CrossFit HQ was great, so after leaving and coming back home I knew I needed to find a Box to join because that experience was so much better than the solo workouts I was doing at the College.

Since joining CrossFit PAX, I have improved everywhere- my strength, my endurance, my lifting technique, my confidence- everywhere.  My biggest changes might be in strength. Before starting I struggled to deadlift 225, and now my PR is 405 and my goal is 450 on my way up to 500

The best part is the coaching, and I am not just saying that because I am a coach myself and think coaches need more credit. Having someone there to have eyes on you to tell you if you are doing things right or push you is an incredibly beneficial thing.  I am a regular of Jen’s classes and she is great.

I was a competitive swimmer for about 12 years. I swam on a club team the produced some of the greatest male swimmers of all time, 3 different world record holders. I was a team record holder on that team and just missed Olympic Trials in 2000 summer after my senior year of High School.  I personally don’t swim as much anymore these days. When I do get in I can feel the added strength right away, and a little more strength and awareness in my midline and core.

I started using CrossFit in my swim coaching, and for my athletes it has been huge. They are a lot more explosive and the confidence they have gained from going through some of the workouts doing skills like handstand pushups is impressive.

The advice I would give to someone new just jumping into CrossFit is to not be too critical of yourself. I was a pretty high level athlete growing up and in college so I thought I will jump into this and should be pretty good at it right away and be able to keep up with just about anybody: wrong… I think CF can be hard for people when they first start because they walk in the door and see all these great athletes doing all of these crazy things while they are struggling with the warm up. Just focus on your own improvement. Everyone starts somewhere. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has been in the gym everyday for the last 2 plus years. CF is about improving ‘your’ fitness so that ‘you’ can lead a healthier more fulfilling life. Competition is great and at the heart of what CF is about but have perspective, don’t beat yourself up, and come back tomorrow.”

Great advice from a great athlete and coach!  We are glad you stayed humble and stuck with it and are seeing some great gains, Julio!

So, CrossFit PAX, are we ready for our first swim WOD on Saturday, February 8th with Coach Julio!  Details to come!