When Josh and his father were driving to a state swim meet in Wisconsin in his early teens, his dad mentioned that one of the local middle school teachers was training for these things called “Ironman”. Josh asked curiously what those were, and his dad said it was like “swimming, biking, and running the distance (they were about to drive) from Wausau to Madison”. With naivety, he immediately responded with “I can do that easily”. His dad said, “Good luck with that one Bubba” understanding the magnitude of effort and commitment an endeavor like this would require. Ever since that day, Josh remembers that small seed of doubt from his father made him swear to himself that one day he was going to cross that finish line.
In the meantime, Josh pursued his ambitions in being an elite swimmer. He set state records and won multiple High School state championships which earned him a scholarship to swim at the University of Minnesota as a golden gopher. During his time there, he became one of the fastest breaststrokers in the institution's history while also being actively engaged in the community. He committed over 500 hours in community service through a variety of organizations throughout his time as a student athlete. He was awarded the Golden Goldy for being 1 out of over 700 student-athletes for his outstanding leadership both in sport and the community. He was an 8-time Big Ten Finalist, 5-time Big Ten Medalist, and qualified individually for the Division 1 NCAA Championships in the 100 breaststroke. Furthermore, he qualified and competed at the 2012 US Olympic Trials in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Following his collegiate career, he became professional swimmer that represented the nation of the Philippines from 2013-2016. He swam at major international meets including 4x World Championships, the Asian Games, 2x Southeast Asian Games, multiple World Cups, and the Pan Pacific Championships winning multiple international medals in the process. He was the captain of all his international teams and his time at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia he swam under the Olympic standard qualifying times needed to represent the Philippines at the Olympic Games in 2016. He was the fastest breaststroker ever in the history of the nation and broke five different national ecords during the process.
After a few years of taking a break from athletics, Josh happened to be watching the Ironman World Championships televised in Kona, HI and remembered the inadvertent challenge his father gave him as a kid and the goose bumps he got watching the finish line. Moreover, ever since leaving formal athletic competitions there was something missing in his life to fuel his competitive desire. He picked up a road bike at the local bike shop, a pair of running shoes, and reengaged in the sport of swimming -- all with the aim of completing an Ironman. After a few flat tires & broken bike gears, he eventually completed his first Ironman in 2019 at Ironman Arizona. Ever since he was hooked on the sport, and now Josh currently trains in Huntington Beach, CA competing in Ironman annually. He has completed 7 Ironman events (5x 70.3/2x 140.6). At his most recent Ironman performance in Ironman California, he set the course swim record, became the fastest Filipino Ironman of all time, and earned himself a spot to compete at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI in 2024.
Josh joined Team Varlo back in 2022 and had been amazed with the supportive community of incredible athletes that he gets the opportunity to be inspired by daily & the force that a team can have in making everyone accountable and better in their own ambitions. The mission of empowering every type of athlete through the prism of sport in achieving their goals of tomorrow is one of the main things that drew Josh to Varlo, He is proud to wear the Varlo logo in his athletic pursuits and every time he looks down at his tri-kit, in the chaos of an Ironman, he is reminded of what the brand represents and is able to dig just a little bit deeper knowing he is not alone.
The biggest lesson he learned when he first started triathlon is to meet yourself where you are at - not where you feel you should be, or used to be, or where someone else is currently. If this sport has taught me one thing is that it can’t always be about smashing PR’s or hitting qualifying times. They are awesome to achieve, but they don’t tell the whole story. Measuring against yourself or your competitors can be a helpful tool and a powerful intrinsic motivator. But, it can also be just as damaging. It can be the quickest way to burnout when your effort doesn’t match the outcomes. And it can rob you of the genuine reasons you got started in the first place. Instead, reconnect with that initial spark that made you hop on that bike. Find the joy in taking another stroke or another stride. Just fall back in love with that internal muse that got you started in the first place. Do this daily, and you’ll discover an infinite power source to endure your personal journey. And if that doesn’t work, well…. then just go find a father who knows what to say to get moving in the direction of your dreams :)