Just three months after giving birth to her first child, Tobias, Bethany Hamilton (HAW) will surf as a wildcard in the Swatch Women's Pro in September. The event is the seventh stop on the women's Championship Tour (CT).
This type of fortitude should be no surprise to fans who have followed Hamilton's career. At the end of 2014, she competed against three of the world's best surfers at the Women's Pipe Invitational while she was pregnant with Tobias.
Earlier this year, she competed in an all-men's event in Bali. And, as has been well documented, this all comes years after a shark attack left her with just one arm, but didn't keep her from a successful competitive career.
Hamilton recently chatted about her wild year, her mindset going up against the world's best at Lower Trestles, and her opinions about body image in women's surfing.
PL: Have you surfed Trestles before?
BH: I grew up competing in NSSA events and my first win with one arm was at Lowers so I have positive feelings towards that break. Apart from the crowd, though. My freesurfs have been frustrating trying to catch a wave. I'm excited to surf with just one or two other girls.
PL: Have you set any goals for yourself going into the event as a wildcard?
BH: I believe that if I surf my heat smart I think I could go all the way to the Final. But I'm trying not to get ahead of myself.
PL: The last time we saw you go up against women on the CT was at Pipe. What was it like competing at that level at that place?
BH: I've been competitive since I was a young girl. I was so honored to be able to compete and surfing the three of them. Honestly, they are my favorite female surfers to watch. I'm good friends with Carissa and I've done surf trips with Steph [Gilmore] and Tyler [Wright]. I was psyching out of my mind to surf Pipe with three other girls. I went for it and made the most of it.
PL: What are you focusing on now that you're coming up against them again at Trestles?
BH: The huge thing for me right now it recovering from pregnancy and birth. I'm working a lot on fitness. I know I have to get my mind game going, too. All of them have been in and out of contests all year. Training on the competitive side of things is going to be a big. It comes naturally to me because I've competed a lot in my lifetime.
PL: You addressed criticism about "post-birth bodies" recently on Instagram. Carissa Moore mentions body image in her short film "Riss" as well. Is there still a lot of scrutiny in women's surfing in that way?
BH: Carissa and I grew up together and I've definitely seen her battle with that so I'm super excited with her film. In my own life, health is a huge passion and in 2014 I came out with a book, Body and Soul. My purpose was to encourage women to make healthy decisions instead of just opening health magazines because a lot of times you close the magazine feeling like you're not good enough.
My passion for that started when I heard of a young girl at the hospital for anorexia and she had read Soul Surfer [Hamilton's biography], and it helped her. How could someone's body image get to a place of such painful consciousness? I think pregnant women carry that same obsession. Pregnancy is such an important time to nourish yourself and your baby.
PL: How does your body feel? What are you doing to get ready for a CT event so soon after having your son?
BH: I have to get into grind mode to prep for Lowers. I'm kind of rushing. I think women should take nine months to get back to normal and I'm trying to narrow it down to a couple of months. I've been working out a lot more than I would if I wasn't doing Lowers so I guess it's given me extra motivation. I've always been naturally motivated to get into shape.
I have my new film, Surf Like a Girl, [planned for a December 16 release] and I have career goals so I'm wanting to perform to the best of my ability. I have that natural motivation to get back in shape and be really strong and be really healthy. All these girls [on Tour] are in top shape so it's good motivation to put in the extra effort and put a little more time into my fitness regime.
Read the full release here. Watch Hamilton and the Top 17 compete at the famed cobblestone break at Lower Trestles for the Swatch Women's Pro from September 9-20, 2015. The event, along with the men's Hurley Pro at Trestles, will be broadcast LIVE here and on the WSL app.