Photo: @waterworkmedia

We were so impressed with the ISA Para Worlds recent competition at Pismo Beach, CA. Here we catch up with gold medal winner, 2x Para Surf World Champ 18 year old Liv Stone.

What does it mean to you to win Gold at the 2021 ISA Para Worlds Champs?
It means the whole world for me to win another gold medal at the competition. I have worked so hard over the past year. So much blood sweat and tears went into this win. This gold medal showed myself how strong and hard working I am.

Photo: @waterworkmedia

You’re a 4 times gold medalist and you’ve done amazingly well. What got you into surfing and how did you start competitive surfing? 
I am a 18-year-old, congenital, bilateral, above the elbow amputee born in Pennsylvania. Surfing wasn’t a part of my life until just 4 years ago. The Fall of 2017 was the first time that I ever surfed, attending Bethany Hamilton’s Beautifully Flawed Retreat in Del Mar, California. I loved catching waves with Bethany and when I left, I didn’t know if I would ever surf again.

The next summer (2018) I was invited to my first Challenge Athletes Foundation surf clinic in San Diego. While there, I was partnered with surfing pro Rob Machado. She knew by the end of that week, that she had found her true passion and wanted to pursue surfing. However, I wasn’t sure how it would happen living so far from the ocean. After returning home, adaptive surfer Alana Nichols helped me find a coach in New Jersey. She purchased her own board, and began driving 2 1/2 hours one-way on the weekends to get in the water. I worked hard training in the gym and ocean over the next several months

Photo: Chris Grant @jettygirlssurfmag

Photo: @waterworkmedia

I attended the Beautifully Flawed Retreat again and was able to have some special time in the water with Bethany, allowing me to connect with her on a deeper level. Bethany encouraged me to never stop pursing my dreams. The very next week, I flew back out to San Diego to participate in a surfing clinic at CAF’s annual San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC). This trip reinforced her desire to pursue her new-found passion for surfing. I knew this could only happen if I lived near the water, so during this trip I began planting the seed with my parents to consider a move out to Southern California to allow me to train regularly.

Photo: Michelle Stone

When I returned home, I was asked by Dani Burt, another adaptive surfer, to be a member of the USA Adaptive Surf Team because they had a spot open for my division. I competed in December 2018 at the Stance ISA Para Surfing World Championships where I helped my team win a team gold medal! My stoke for the sport grew immensely, so I continued to discuss the future with my parents. 6 months flew by and my family decided to make the California move permanent allowing me to purse my dreams.
I continued training hard and that winter, I won my first WSA competition. The AMPSurf ISA Para Surfing World Championships in La Jolla, CA was happening the first weekend in March and all the surfers were so grateful to squeak in this event before Covid shut the world down. I fought hard through her heats and entered the finals as the number two seed.

Photo: Michelle Stone

During the finals, I scored her two highest waves ever in competition, a 6.83 and 7.17, earning myself the individual gold medal in the Women’s Para Surf 1 division! Team USA had another great year finishing second overall with taking home the silver medal; the stoke was unreal!
I have continued to train hard during this past year during the difficult challenges of Covid. I have been working with Courtney Conologue, Danny Nichols and Ted Robinson in and out of the water. I defended my world title in December at the AMPSurf ISA Para Surfing World Championships in Pismo, CA where I had another gold medal placed around my neck, making me a 2x Para Surf World Champion.

What do you love about surfing?
I love how the ocean makes us whole. No matter our level of surfing, who we are, or what we look like, surfing makes us all equal. The ocean is a strong and powerful force that has changed my life and so many others. I love the community that surfing brings. Adaptive surfing in particular is so loving and excepting; they’re my second family. I love going out to the ocean every day because getting in the water is truly one of the best feelings.

Photos: Top @bluewesley

Below: @waterworkmedia

My parents have been my biggest supporters and I truly couldn’t ask for a better mom and dad.

Did your parents encourage you and what is your support network like?
My parents have been my biggest supporters and I truly couldn’t ask for a better mom and dad. They uprooted their entire life to allow me to follow my dreams and support me no matter what. All my friends that I have made out here in California have been so encouraging, which has helped me pursue my goals with even more passion.

Are you active in any other sports?
I have been an active athlete since I was young, playing many sports: soccer, basketball, field hockey, cheering, horseback riding, and rifle. When I entered high school, I played competitive soccer for my high school varsity team as well as a local club team where I was the team captain. I also joined the high school varsity rifle team where they provided equipment accommodations to enable me to be successful. I shot 4 perfect matches (100) as well as placing 3rd place in a pairs competition. But now, surfing is my main focus. I like to go to the gym and cross train as well.

Describe how hard physically is it for you to surf? Do you have special equipment to help you?
The way I surf is like no one else. I grew up not knowing anything different with my arms. I was forced to learn to do things differently than other people and it has had many challenges along the way, but I always pushed hard to be my best. My arms are much shorter than a regular length arm, so my pop up had to be modified. I do a two-step pop up. I have perfected this and trained to make it really fast. I have to use aquatic prosthetics when I surf. They are essentially swim paddles that are strapped to my hands so that I can pull more water.

Photo: @tatianaleairphoto

Where are your favourite places to surf?
I love surfing at my home break at the Oceanside Harbor as well as the Pier. I also enjoy surfing the different reef breaks in Carlsbad and Encinitas. I am planning to go to Hawaii this summer and I am sure I will love the waves there.

How do you stay positive during the down days, what motivates you?
I try and stay positive through any situation. I know how blessed I am and I love the life I live. I do have days where I struggle with my self-image but I ultimately tell myself that God made me in his image and I am beautiful no matter the struggles I go through. Life is so short to be negative and I try not to dwell on the hard times.
Do you have any words to encourage others to overcome their obstacles and disabilities?
I actually just posted this on my instagram today and I think it really fits this question.

Do you have any words to encourage others to overcome their obstacles and disabilities?
I actually just posted this on my instagram today and I think it really fits this question.

— Keep a growth mindset —

1. View challenges as opportunities
2. Look for the good in every situation
3. Keep the promises you make to yourself
4. Don’t compare yourself to others; be proud of who you are and the way you were created.
5. Aspire to make a change in this world
6. Seek to learn something new everyday
7. Trust in Him †

You can grow into the person you want to become!