Last week at the USA Surfing Championships at Lower Trestles, the surfing world got it's first peek at how Kolohe Andino's recovery is progressing. Riding a Matt Biolos-shaped 6'3", overall, he didn't appear to have much of a hitch in his giddy-up. Just check the footage below.
The longer board allowed him to stretch out his rail line through arcs, while still applying his usual torque through the end of his turns in the chunky four- to six-foot south swell. No airs, safe surfing by his lofty standards, but a rock solid outing nonetheless that he's intent on building on.
"I was cleared to surf from the doctors and PT, I did three or four days on a longboard then took a rest," Andino explained about his recent return to the water.
He spent a few days on a longboard before moving down to a mid-length borrowed from Nate Yeomans, and now he's onto shorter equipment.
"I'd like to be riding my normal board by July 1st," he says.
Andino's injury dates back to the gap in the Championship Tour schedule after events at Sunset Beach and Santa Cruz were halted due to the pandemic at the beginning of the year. After spending time in Northern California surfing with longtime friend Nat Young, Andino headed over to Hawaii to get some more reps in at Pipeline.
Staying with Olympic teammate John John Florence, the two scored, but Andino ended up injuring his ankle after a barrel clamped on him. Returning home to San Clemente, he consulted his medical team and underwent and MRI.
"It was ATFL ligament and a high ankle sprain, both grade-three injuries," he explains.
Doing everything he could to rehab his injury in time for the start of the four-stop Australian leg of the CT, Andino headed Down Under feeling confident that he would be able to compete. But after his two-week quarantine, in his first surf, he knew immediately things weren't right.
"It was feeling good -- until I tried to stand up on my board. It hurt so bad. It was some of the worst pain I've ever felt," he says. "It was my first surf after quarantine and my ankle just blew up. I knew I was done for the Australia leg, so I sacked up, called it off for the next four events and came home."
Undergoing surgery for the injury to repair ligament damage and encourage full healing, Andino's been grinding through multiple physical therapy and training sessions every day since.
"I've been hammering," he smirks.
And now, back in the water, he's detailed his path to full recovery in time for the upcoming Olympic Games.
"It's the perfect amount of time to go slow but also be ready for Japan. In the past when I've come back from injuries there was pressure to be ready quick," Andino explains. "But with this I can go slow. And because it's mapped out I know where I'll be -- like by the second week of July I'll be trying airs and doing all my stuff."
"The first final I ever did at NSSA Nationals, I was eight years old, Carissa got third and John got first. I got fifth. She beat me. It's been cool to be on this journey with them," he surmises about his upcoming Olympic appearance.
The opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games takes place on July 23, 2021, and if all goes according to plan, Andino will be there representing the United States.