YOU MIGHT KNOW Bethany Hamilton as “that surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.”
Fair enough. Hamilton did indeed lose her left arm after being attacked by a 15-foot tiger shark in the waters off of Kauai in 2003. But that isn’t what makes her story interesting. The fascinating part is that three weeks later, she was back in the water, that she learned to surf again, and that she’s spent the past decade living out her dreams of surfing professionally.
Even if you have no interest in surfing, you might remember the biopic Soul Surfer. Or maybe you saw her when she won an ESPY, did the Ellen and Oprah thing, or competed on The Amazing Race. But it’s important to note that none of that fame came from losing her arm. It came from the strength, grit, and personal fortitude she exhibited in dealing with the loss.
Aside from all the media surrounding her, know this: She would still be a well-known athlete with two arms. Because Bethany Hamilton is an absolutely ripping surfer. When she competes, the other women in the water aren’t thinking about her story. They are too busy giving everything they’ve got to beat one of the hardest-charging wave riders on the planet.
With her wildcard entry at the Swatch Women’s Pro at Lower Trestles (starting this morning), it seemed fitting to remind everyone just how badass Bethany Hamilton is.
1. She’s about to surf in a professional contest after having a baby in June.
Hamilton and her husband just had their first child, Tobias, on June 1. Now, in early September, she’s slated to surf against women who were tuned up and touring while she was pregnant. This video, by the World Surf League, shows Hamilton prepping for the contest with Kelly Slater.
2. She’s a power surfer who can go airborne.
Airs and air-reverses have become the standard for competitive surfers. It’s an aggressive move that requires very precise speed-management, balance, and spatial awareness. Bethany throws them with style.