If you want to know what it takes to bounce back, just ask pro surfer Bethany Hamilton. In 2003, the then-13-year-old lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark in Hawaii, but she never let that slow her down.
Her autobiography, Soul Surfer, was turned into a movie starring AnnaSophia Robb five years ago, and earlier this summer, Hamilton finished third in the World Surf League’s Fiji Women’s Pro.
“When you are focused on your passions it just makes life that much better, despite any circumstance you find yourself in. There is beauty on the other side.”
You have faced so much adversity and achieved so much. What have you learned?
I am really thankful for the life that I’ve had. We all have tough times and ups and downs that we must overcome. I just put my energy on my faith in God and the things that I can work on, my health, surfing, encouraging other people through their journeys. When you are focused on your passions it just makes life that much better, despite any circumstance you find yourself in. There is beauty on the other side.
What advice do you have for a guy going through a challenging time?
You have to find something to be grateful for in life. You can kinda get caught up in the momentary struggle; I am not downplaying any pain by any means, because there is such immeasurable pain that people go through, whether emotionally or physically. But I do think that we can heal and overcome and get back to looking for our next adventure in life and staying close to the people we love.
Got any expert surfing tips?
You have to really persevere. There is nothing about surfing that is easy. Surfing is like no other sport, you have to be very confident in the ocean. So work on your swimming. My husband is a super jock—he admitted that it’s definitely one of the hardest sports he has ever taken part in. And he has a football and track background! It’s been fun to see him really take it on; he has caught on fast.
What’s one thing you love about surfing?
Getting barreled, but it’s not easy!
What are some of your favorite surfing beaches?
Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji, Costa Rica—anywhere warm and pretty!
What’s it like to surf in Fiji?
Fiji is amazing! I tried to push myself really hard for it. All the women I competed with I have so much respect for too. It was a dream come true. The ocean is so beautiful and perfect. But it was also challenging, and I just tried to enjoy the journey and had a lot of fun competing.
What is your workout routine like?
In between surfing, I love to do a lot of HIIT-style [high-intensity interval training] workouts, posture focused stretching, and throw in some beach runs and swims to keep it fresh.
What are you working on now?
I am working on Soul Surfer Girl, a documentary that kinda is a continuation of Soul Surfer, the movie that was made about my life. I have been working on it for the past three years and it will be out next year. And I just teamed up with Damon Braces as we have been working on a campaign together, about smiling despite adversity. They created an emoji in my honor, which was pretty cool. It’s the first time I have ever been emojified!
If a guy wants to approach a cute surfer girl but doesn’t know how to surf, what would you tell him?
Ask her for a surf lesson… and leave the ego on the beach!
Lead photo: Ormco