USA junior surf team trains for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic games
USA Surfing hosts the junior championships held at Lower Trestles in San Clemente offering opportunities for aspiring young surfers in training for the pinnacle in the sports world, the Olympic games.
Conditions for the event consisted of two to four-foot surf and rising water temperatures of 63 degrees. The athletes train for this championships not only for the title but also as an avenue for selection as a member of the USA junior surf team.
In the under 18 men’s division Crosby Colapinto from San Clemente swept first place with a heat score of 17.67 out of 20 points, followed by Jett Schilling from San Clemente in second and Wyatt McHale from Hawaii in third. Luana Silva from Hawaii captured the win for the women under 18, Gabriela Bryan from Hawaii snatching second, and Samantha Sibley from San Clemente placed third.
The USA junior team will represent the country on the world stage in the International Surfing Association with a competitive field of over 40 countries. The International Olympic Committee now recognizes the ISA as the world governing authority for surfing.
“This year it takes on a new meaning because with the addition of surfing into the Olympics for 2020,” Andrea Swayne said, president of USA Surfing. “It has now become the training ground for Olympians, therefore it has taken on a whole new significance in that this is now an official Olympic preparation program.”
Kaleigh Gilchrist, an Olympic gold medalist for the USA water polo team in the 2016 Rio games and competes as a professional surfer. Her showcased her talent in the Olympians versus Olympic hopefuls exhibition heat. This heat also included Olympic athletes who surf and current professional surfers such as Griffin Colapinto, Kolohe Andino and Courtney Conlogue in order to highlight surfing’s debut into the 2020 Tokyo games.
“To me it’s just great to come back and give support to the USA surf team that’s given me so much in the past when I was at this level,” Gilchrist said. “The exhibition session heat was super fun for me to inspire the younger generation.”
Bree Smith a 12-year-old surfer originally from Melbourne Beach, Florida who currently resides in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica and qualified for this event from her accumulation of point from the National Scholastic Surfing Association. USA Surfing inducted her after months of analysis of potential and performance into the developmental branch of the USA junior team.
“When I compete I just focus on my own surfing and having fun,” Smith said, placing fourth in the event. “My goals in the future are to make it onto the world championship tour now called WSL and to qualify for the Olympics.”
These young athletes will be in contention for the Olympic games in 2024 in France and the games in 2028 in Los Angeles. Swayne is hopeful that the games will take place at Lower Trestles as it is deemed by the industry as one of the most high performance spots in the world.