Azarias Shifting Attention to National Stage
April 21, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas -- About the same time Luiz Azarias was learning to walk his parents introduced him to the swimming pool -- on doctor's orders - and he's been swimming ever since.
Azarias was diagnosed with respiratory problems at the age of 18 months and the doctor ordered pool therapy, and even today, Azarias has reaped the benefits of that advice.
"It has helped me a lot breathing wise," said Azarias, who is hails from Uberlandia, Brazil. "As a kid I was allergic to pretty much everything, especially respiratory stuff. My lungs got stronger and I got way healthier."
Some 20 years later, Azarias is still in the pool, and this week he's competing in the Brazilian National Championships in Sao Paolo in the 100 fly and 200 fly with hopes of making the Pan-Pacific Games.
Azarias, who was the Brazilian Junior National Champion in the 200 fly and 400 IM in 2009, has competed in the national meet before and says he has what it takes physically and now he has convince himself mentally that he can compete with the best swimmers in his home country.
"My biggest concern isn't how I am going to feel or who I will be racing against," he said. "I feel confident because I feel I am as fast or better than last year. I'm going to try my best to beat my best times."
In order to earn a spot in the Pan-Pacific Games he must finish in the top 2 and eclipse the qualifying time.
In addition to making it to the Pan-Pacific Games, Azarias has the goal of making it to the Olympics.
"They don't have sports in high school (in Brazil)," he said. "If you want to do extra-curricular activities you have to go outside of school and join a club. High school is for studying and getting ready for college."
He joined Praia Club in Uberlandia where he would train before and after school. Training before school went from 5:45 a.m. - 6:30 a.m. and then again after school from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
"It's a really nice club," he said. "It was one of the best clubs in Latin America for three years in a row."
There came a time, Azarias said, that he needed to step out of his comfort zone and come to the United States to increase not only his athletic opportunities, but his educational opportunities as well.
He first competed for the Frogs in 2011-12 and he posted 12 event wins that year (six individual, six relays).
In 2012-13 he set the school record in the 200 butterfly (1:46.04) and finished second at the Big 12 Conference Championships. He was a All-Big 12 First-Team selection (200 fly) and All-Big 12 Second-Team selection (100 fly).
Along with the school record in the 200 fly, he is the school record holder in the 100 fly (49.08).
Because he attended Universidade Federal de Uberlandia before coming to TCU, he exhausted in eligibility at the end of 2013 and didn't compete in the 2014 Big 12 Championships.
Now his focus shifts entirely to the national stage.
"My goal and my dream is to make it to the Olympics," he said.