Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern
Life-altering events can happen quite unexpectedly, this we all know. Sometimes they’re amazingly good occurrences (like nailing that CrossFit move you've been working on forever), and other times, there are tragic things that happen, often begging the question, ‘why me?’ For elite athletes and thrill seekers, tragedy can be exceptionally devastating; ripping away the things you’ve spent your life aspiring to. But to overcome adversity is a show of true strength. Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton knows just what I’m talking about. In 2003 she lost her left arm in a tiger shark attack, but didn’t let that stop her. A mere month later, Hamilton returned to the water and went on to realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She shared her story with the world in her 2004 autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. And then of course came the 2011 film based on the book, which caused the nation to fall even more in love with the blonde beach babe. Now, Hamilton is back in an EPIX original documentary, The Current, premiering tonight at 8 p.m. EST. She’ll share her story along with five other athletes with disabilities who explore the deep wonders of the ocean and the healing freedoms it can supply. We caught up with Bethany to talk about her workouts, surfing career and what it was like to be a part of The Current.
The Current is mainly based on the idea of using the healing powers of water and the ocean as a way to rediscover the freedom of movement. Can you tell us about that? What is about the ocean or water that has helped you? I believe God’s given us the ocean and the outdoors as a place of healing. I remember when I first started surfing [again] after losing my arm, everyone was like, ‘Aren’t you scared of sharks?’ But for me, I was more scared of not surfing and not being able to spend time where I love to be most: in the ocean. So that was kind of just the start of my whole recovery. And even to this day, when things are getting stressful it’s nice to be able to get in the ocean. I don’t know, everything can kind of just melt away and you can just get out there and enjoy creation.
Did you get the chance to meet any of the other athletes? What was it like to hear their stories? I got to spend time with Grant Korgan [the first adaptive athlete to ski 80 miles in the South Pole]. He was in a snowmobiling accident and just got annihilated, and broke his spine. He’s been told he’s never going to walk again, but he’s slowly getting feeling back [in his legs] and he’s just working endlessly to recover his body. It’s been pretty incredible to get to know him and his wife and their story, their perseverance. We went scuba diving and got to experience some of the most beautiful places in the underwater world. It was pretty incredible.
After going through so much at such a young age, what is it that keeps you motivated? I think what motivates me is just my passion. Like when it comes to surfing, I just love being in the ocean and I love the challenge of just working to be the best I can be. It’s fun to me. It’s interesting to just work at that and strive after the things I’m passionate for.
Being a pro surfer, how long to do train on a daily basis? It’s very variable with surfing because you kind of have to be dependent on the ocean, but I’ll surf anywhere from one to five hours a day. And then I do a bit of off-water training, three to five times a week for about an hour.
What kind of off-water exercises do you do? A lot of posture training. I focus with my trainer [on] Egoscue, [which] is a method to bring your posture to better alignment. Usually I’ll start the day and finish the day with that. I love working with the TRX and so I’ll do that with circuit training.
Do you have any fave foods that you eat before a big training day or competition? I’m kind of just a veggie herbivore. I love a lot of vegetables. Usually before I surf, I like to have a spinach shake with protein powder and ice and almond milk. That’s like my go-to in the morning. [Then I’ll have] veggies throughout the day with either organic fish or chicken or eggs. Photo courtesy of EPIX
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