Becoming an adaptive surfer

Naty en una tabla rosada agarrando una ola izquierda

We are a few days away from starting the IV ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship and I am, for the second year in a row, a participating athlete, proud to be a part of an incredible story much bigger than me, next to athletes and renowned surfers such as Alana Nichols, Dani Burt, and Ann Yoshida. I am part of a global movement that is positioning adaptive surfing as a high performance sport and women have a leading role in it.

I had never been an athlete. I was one of those who tried at all costs to skip Physical
Education in school, but I always loved the sea, since I was very little. Surfing was not
in my plans. I admired it, but I never thought I could do it until a friend, Juan Manuel
Camacho, also a wheelchair user and part of the adaptive surfing team, invited me to
do it and it was love at first wave! It started as something purely recreational and
evolved into something competitive in a very short time.

I always went in accompanied by surfers with great experience: Marcel Oliveira,
current national Longboard and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) champion, and Cindy Díaz,
current Bodyboard champion. I learned fast, because with them everything seemed
very easy. But, for the III World Adaptive Surfing Championship, my first international
competition, I entered the AS4 category, without the assistance I was used to. We were, at that moment, God, the sea and I. Power, love and self-control were the only words I thought about with each stroke, part of the psychological and spiritual preparation we had received from the head coach, Gustavo Corrales and from Andrea Chacón.
This year, the training process began with the Integrated Surf Circuit (with Marcel’s
assistance), with many free surfing sessions, always accompanied by someone, but
without much assistance, until we reached the official trainings during the wet season,
where one of my biggest challenges was being able to reach the lineup. I went through
many moments of frustration, sadness and anger. I trained hard to make myself
stronger and to be able to do it alone, and I was always hit by thousands of waves of
all kinds. I swallowed water, I felt like I was drowning several times, and came out red-
eyed from sea and tears.

For a long time, I did not catch a single good wave, but I learned a lot of resilience and
self-awareness. I went it scared, with a voice in my head telling me the sea was stronger and that I didn’t stand a chance. I doubted myself so many times. I had an overwhelming whirlwind of emotions. I felt an inner fire that prevented me from giving up, but I was not enjoying it one bit. Many sunsets, conversations, paddlings and wipe outs passed until a set knocked me over; I enjoyed it and came out laughing. With full support from the technical team and friends, I reconnected with myself, with the sea, and with what I love doing: surfing.

I understood and embraced that none of this I was doing alone. I feel God very close, in
the greatness of the sea, in the breeze, in the strength of the currents, and in the waves. At every moment, with me are the lessons of coaches and surfers who have devoted their time to teach me everything they know about surfing. We learn together about the adaptations we have to make so that I, a person with disabilities, can be as good a surfer as anybody else. Besides, all those people with and without disabilities, who have big dreams and the certainty to fulfill them are with me in each wave.

Neither in the waves nor in the wipe outs am I alone; all amateur, regular, and pro
surfers, who know this adrenaline rush so well, come with me. All the people and
organizations that support this movement in different ways are with me as well.
The beauty of becoming an adaptive surfer is that I am part of something giant,
something larger than the disability and the sport itself. I am part of a movement that
shows that inclusion and gender equality can be put completely into practice. The sea
is the same for all, some have bigger challenges than others, but together we can
enjoy, grow and prove that the impossible only takes longer.

I am ready, excited, happy, and willing to give the best of me this coming 2018 World
Championship.

To read this post in spanish, follow this link: Conviertiendome en una surfista adaptada

Publicado por nataliavindas

Hola! Soy Naty. Me encanta viajar, surfear y trabajar temas de accesibilidad e inclusión. Soy usuaria de silla de ruedas desde el 2008. Con ella he aprendido a aventurarme, disfrutar el mundo y conectar con otras personas a través de la empatía, la gratitud, el coraje, la pasión, la fortaleza y la alegría.

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