Chasing waves and making history.
For the first time ever, surfing will take center stage at the 2020 Olympics, with six athletes heading to Tokyo to represent the United States when the sporting event begins on July 23 after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. squad is made up of four surfers and two alternates, including superstar Kelly Slater, who has a strong chance of hitting the ocean later this month as both of his male teammates are coming back from major injuries, with one returning to the water just last month.
On the women's side, all three competitors are pushing for equality within the sport and inspiring young girls with their messages of body positivity, kind of making us wish they were starring in a Blue Crush remake.
But the most important teammate?
"With surfing, it's such a unique sport," Olympic surfer Caroline Marks recently told E! News. "It's one of the only sports where you rely on mother nature and I think that's what makes it so hard."
And the schedule for surfing's debut at the Olympics is dependent on the weather conditions, with the competition slated to kick off on July 25. So, if conditions allow, the competition can be completed in four days, but it is possible that more time could be required. Translation: Like the surfers, viewers have just gotta ride the wave.
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, get to know the six surfers going for gold…
Trending Stories1Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker Pack on the PDA in UFC Return2Scooter Braun and Wife Yael Split After 7 Years of Marriage3Ariana Grande Shares Photos From Her Honeymoon With Dalton GomezTrevor Moran / Red Bull Content PoolKolohe Andino
The 27-year-old from San Clemente, Calif., has won seven USA Surfing Champion titles and holds the record for winning the most National Scholastic Surfing Association titles of any male competitor, becoming the youngest to win one at age 15 in 2009.
Unfortunately, he had to miss the start of the 2021 season due to an ankle injury, but has been updating fans on his rehabilitation on Instagram after undergoing surgery in April, which has changed his perspective on competing.
"I'm ready to compete in a place of joy and lightness, with a sense that I'm not scared to lose," he told Red Bull. "I realize I'm happiest when I'm outside surfing. Why not really lean into that?"
Trevor Moran / Red Bull Content PoolKolohe Andino
Kolohe married Madison Andino in 2018 and the couple announced in May that they were expecting their first child, a girl, with the athlete writing on Instagram. "Girl dads for the win!"
Some other fun facts about the surfer: His name means "rascal" in Hawaiian and his nickname is Brother, which originated from his two sisters who had trouble saying his name growing up. In a 2019 interview with Team USA, Kolohe revealed his training routine, which includes waking up at 3:30 a.m. to meditate before hitting the gym at 5 a.m. for a two-hour training session. From there, he hits the water for four hours before another training session at home before his 7 p.m. curfew.
Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty ImagesJohn John Florence
Arguably the favorite to win the gold medal at the sport's inaugural Olympics, the 28-year-old Hawaii native won the Men's Championship Tour title in 2016 and 2017, making him just the fifth surfer in history to take home back-to-back titles. He's currently ranked No. 3 in the world.
Like Kolohe, John John has had to overcome several injuries, including a ruptured ACL in 2019, which required surgery and almost took him out of the running to make the Olympics. But John John was able to snag the final spot on the U.S. team in December 2019, just beating out Kelly Slater. The following year, he won Pipe Masters 2020.
But John John suffered another blow, once again requiring surgery—this time on his other knee—in May.
"I woke up to the report from @drwarreng that everything went as well as possible, and the procedure I had will give me the opportunity to surf at full strength sooner than I had hoped," he wrote on Instagram following the procedure. "Feeling motivated to really know that the Olympics are attainable. I'm excited for this and I'm gonna do everything I can to make it happen!"