Moving Forward: Jim Zuur, a 2023 Masters National Swimming Gold Medalist

Written by Judy Salamacha

June 16, 2023

Depeche Salcedo trains Masters Gold Medalist Jim Zuur at Fitness Works Morro Bay. Photo submitted by Jim Zuur

Congratulations to Morro Bay’s Jim Zuur.  

On the heels of international Ironman competitors visiting Morro Bay, we can also be proud to have a 2023 national championship swimmer living among us all year long. Last month Jim competed in the U.S. Masters Spring National Championships. He swam in five events and medaled in all of them. The event attracts 2,500 swimmers to Irvine, CA. 

“I got my first Gold medal in the 50-yard breaststroke,” he said. “There were 20 Olympians there, but luckily none of them were in my events.” 

Jim swims in the 80-85 group. He said he had achieved Gold before at the Masters National meet, but in team relays. This one was special because in 2023 he gave it his all for both himself and for the teams he competed with. He also earned medals in the 50-yard backstroke, 50-yard Freestyle, and two relays – 200-yard Freestyle relay and 200-yard Medley relay. 

“My goal is to make it to the 90-95 age group class,” he said. “You don’t have to win your race – all you have to do is finish, and you get a standing ovation!”  

While building his professional career in film entertainment in the San Jose area, Jim had taken a 40-year break from swimming. He swam competitively for four years in high school and two more in the Philippines at Clark AFB. “I got back in the water for health reasons. When I found out about Senior Games, I swam at Stanford meets for four years. He discovered he enjoyed the competition, which also motivated him to train to a next level. The Masters meets offered more competitive teams, so he became a Marin Pirate until the coach retired. His 2023 success was proof he is capable of more. 

Jim offered what he believes is key for seniors to maintain strength and vitality. “Keep that body moving – the secret to aging people’s health and fitness is to keep that body moving!” 

His trainer is Depeche Salcedo at Fitness Works of Morro Bay. “She is excellent. We worked on ‘dry land’ exercises that helped me with all my strokes.” 

Salcedo commented, “As a certified personal trainer and tactical conditioning specialist, I see the most success and long-term health benefits in the seniors I train who have specific fitness goals … something to aspire towards. My senior clients’ goals are broad-ranged — from playing softball another season, to keeping active with grandkids and even winning national swimming championships! Such is the case with 83 years “young” Jim Z. Jim trains with me in the gym to improve his overall strength, mobility and cardio, and then transfers that hard work into the pool. Jim’s incredible achievement goes to show that hard work and training in the gym pays off. Not only did our training sessions provide him with increased strength and endurance, Jim also won 5 medals!” 

Jim Zuur takes Gold in 2023 Masters Spring National Championship in 50-yard breaststroke.  Photo submitted by Jim Zuur

Competitive swimming is a passion for Jim Zuur. “I work out at the Morro Bay pool, Fitness Works and Kennedy Club in Atascadero.” His goal is to be fit enough to be competitive among his swimming peers. “I have been on a ‘world class’ Masters team, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters out of Marin County, for 11 years. Two of my teammates are already in the Swimmers International Hall of Fame and a couple have competed at the Olympic Trials.”  

As a columnist for EBN, one of my passions is discovering who our residents were before they created new lives living in the Estero Bay. Whether retired or transferring careers; opening a new business or spending time serving one of our many nonprofits, we chose to move here or grew up here and stayed or returned here to spend our lives here. We each bring a multitude of skills and talents looking for a place to regenerate. I find it magical when new passions are discovered that contribute to our community’s best interests.   

Jim and his wife Mary Ellen Zuur moved from San Jose to Cambria when she got a position as graphic designer for the Tribune. Eventually, Mary Ellen would accept a job at Cuesta College, and they moved to Morro Bay. “We love it here,” Jim said. “And we are lucky to now have our own pool for aquatic classes and lap swimming.” 

Jim had an active career in San Jose. In 1972 as an MBA/Distinguished Alumnus from San Jose State University’s School of Business, he worked for Philco-Ford as a field engineer as well as lectured on film production at the university. “An appetite for independent films” enticed him to collaborate with partners to co-found and operate Camera Cinemas — art theatres similar to San Luis Obispo’s Palm Theater. Before San Jose’s downtown redevelopment era boomed, the group opened their first theater, Cinema 1, in 1975.  

In a SJSU alumni profile article written by Kat Meads, Jim was called a risk taker to invest in a theater in the tenderloin district of San Jose. He verified, “There were a lot of pimps and prostitutes walking the street.” Regardless, the venture was a financial success, and the group would eventually open several theaters in San Jose and Los Gatos. Camera Cinemas would ultimately transition from foreign-language films and avant-garde artistic films to independent films typically previewed at the Sundance Film Festival. Jim was a regular attendee at Sundance beginning in the mid-1980s. He witnessed the film festival’s role “… changing the face of independent film making.” One of the films, “A Room With a View” released in 1986, ran for a full year at their Cinema 3. “We felt like we were New York – the kind of metropolitan region it takes to keep bringing in an audience,” Jim told Meads. 

Jim received accolades for his community service in San Jose. To name a few extra-curricular contributions, he served as a Fine Arts Commissioner, chaired the Mayor’s Task Force: ARTS 2020, was vice-president of the board for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and chaired the Los Gatos Film Festival. Jim also transferred his active membership in the Rotary Club of San Jose to the Cambria Rotary Club until he moved to Morro Bay and was consumed with training for Masters swimming competitions. 

Meads listed several of Jim’s favorite movies that included “The Wild Bunch,” “Vertigo,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Taxi Driver” and “Last Tango in Paris.” I wondered if today he would agree with google on “the best movies to see after a swim meet.” Recommended are “Unfiltered” (2005), “Pride” (2007) and “Swimming Upstream” (2003). I’ll have to ask the 2023 Masters Spring National Championship Gold Medalist, Jim Zuur! 

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