Honduran Olympic Swimming Team
By: Frank Morris Lopez
Awards & Recognitions
Semi-Finalist at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games
First Honduras swimmer and first university swimmer to qualify for an Olympic semi-final
Pan American Game finalist
4x LC World Championship competitor
Multi-gold medalist, CCCAN
Central American Games gold medalist
Julimar Avila knows what it takes to go for the gold.
A competitive swimmer since age 5, Avila became the first Honduran swimmer and first university swimmer to advance out of the preliminary rounds of the Olympics when she became a semi-finalist in the 200m fly at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
“I knew before my race that there was an opportunity to make history,” she said. “It did make me a little nervous at first, but … walking up to the blocks, I just wanted to represent Honduras, my parents, my team and myself as best as I could.”
Avila grew up in Boston and started swimming because her mom wanted to learn how to swim. “She’d take me with her to her swimming lessons, and from there, could tell that I loved being in the water,” Avila recalled.
Her mom is a teacher, and her father was an athletic director at Fenway High School and soccer coach. She grew up having “the best of both worlds,” she said, with her father instilling in her the discipline and routine of sports; her mother teaching the work ethic and time management of academics.
In 2010, Avila was selected for the Honduras national team for her first international meet at CAMEX, an age-group aquatics championship with teams from Central America and Mexico.
In high school, she swam for Weston High School, before going on to swim for Boston University, where she got her bachelor’s in human physiology. She received a graduate certificate in health informatics from the BU Metropolitan College while training to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In her time swimming, she’s traveled all over the world for Central American championships, world championships and sports festivals. She’s currently pursuing her master’s in international health management from Imperial College Business School in London, where she’s still training.
But it’s her time in Tokyo that she’ll never forget.
“My swim at the Olympic Games was honestly the calmest I'd ever felt at a competition — I really don't know how,” she said. “Ever since CAMEX 2010, wearing my first national team gear, I had the idea of the Olympics — then it was happening and then I was making history.”
Competing in an Olympic semi-final “was the cherry on top of 19 years of dedication to the sport,” she said.
Avila said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support she received during her race, and that if she has one piece of advice for other Latinos, it’s to never give up.
“Don’t back away from a challenge,” she said. “If something is presented to you and you’re a little nervous, it’s okay — try. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.”