Surf’s up, baby

Even at five and half months pregnant, Bethany Hamilton loves to ride the waves.

But it’s not easy, even for her.

“I went surfing this morning,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’m definitely starting to feel a little more pregnant when I’m standing on the surfboard.”

The 25-year-old continues to greet each day with a smile and a firm faith as she and husband Adam Dirks prepare to start a family. While Bethany, one of Kauai’s most popular and accomplished surfers, is always active with a demanding schedule, she’s resting more these days and taking things a little easier.

Motherhood demands concessions, too.

“I’m feeling good,” she said. “My belly is starting to grow bigger — I can feel the baby move around inside me.”

While she likes her privacy and is protective of family, Bethany knows she has a loyal legion of fans, on and off island. So she keeps up with them through social media, like her website, Facebook and Twitter. Adam and Bethany announced her pregnancy on Facebook in a prerecorded interview from the North Shore.

“It’s the closest thing I do to share my life with other people,” she said.

Bethany will be having a boy in June, which is great, she said, because he’ll have three cousins, all boys, to grow up with on Kauai.

And Kauai, by the way, is where Adam and Bethany plan to stay.

“Yeah, this is home for us,” she said.

The daughter of Tom and Cherilyn Hamilton was raised on Kauai, along with brothers Noah and Tim. Their parents took them to the beach often and let them explore the island and its waters. They developed, and still have, adventurous spirits.

“I loved growing up here,” she said. “I look forward to raising our kids here.”

Kids. Plural, meaning they plan to have more.

“Probably three,” she said.

Kauai, she said, is a great place to raise a family, perfect for spending time in the outdoors with friends. It has its limitations and challenges, of course, but life, Bethany said, is full of challenges.

“If your parents invest in your life, there’s a lot of opportunity to learn here just as much as anywhere else,” she said.

While motherhood brings on a new role and responsibilities, she intends to continue her surfing career and compete at the highest level.

“I’m just trying to be flexible with my hopes and goals,” she said. “I’ll definitely still be in the ocean and doing what I love.”

Until Adam and Bethany’s baby boy comes along in early June, both will be busy. Bethany will be leaving in a month for a speaking tour around the U.S. She talks about challenges, opportunities, believing in self and having a strong faith, too.

She tells of how she lost her left arm in a shark attack while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore on Oct. 31, 2003, and returned to the water just a month later. Her faith in Jesus Christ never faltered and she’s proud to share it. A hit movie, “Soul Surfer,” was based on her life.

“I enjoy doing public speaking,” she said.

She’s working on production of “Surf like a Girl,” an Aaron Lieberman film which centers on her surfing experiences and passion for the sport. It’s described as, “The untold story of Bethany Hamilton and her relentless progression as one of the leading professional female surfers of our time.”

It far exceeded its $60,000 goal on Kickstarter to fund the project, with 1,453 backers donating $116,671. 

Bethany believes the film will provide a different look than Soul Surfer.

Just over a year after the shark attack, she took first place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championships— winning her first National Title.

In 2007, Bethany turned pro. She has since participated in numerous Association of Surfing Professionals and World Tour Events with a highlight being a second-place finish in the ASP 2009 World Junior Championships. She has competed around the world.

“Not a lot of people know the level of surfing I’ve accomplished,” she said.

Adam and Bethany competed on the CBS show, “The Amazing Race,” last year and finished third. She said it was an incredible adventure, grueling but fun. It was full of challenges and roadblocks, a test of their abilities to work together to get from point to point. There were challenges like herding sheep in Scotland and skinning the hair off the hide of a dead animal by hand, which, Bethany said, “was really stinky and gross.”

The Amazing Race is known to test the strength and fortitude of a couple’s relationship. Adam and Bethany more than held their own.

“We came out strong and have a lot of fun memories,” she said.

Bethany had a role in “Dolphin Tale 2” that came out in 2014 and more movies could be in Bethany’s future, but “only if they kind of align with things I’m passionate about,” she said.

She has been offered roles that didn’t appeal to her, didn’t feel right and for which she just wasn’t interested.

“I’m kind of picky.” she said, laughing.

Both Bethany and Adam, also a standout surfer, will be delighted to introduce their son to the ocean and surfing and hope he likes it, but they don’t plan to push the sport on him, either. 

She’ll be just as happy to share with her son her love of cooking, walking on the beach, looking for shells and reading — he’ll develop his own interests, hobbies and goals, with mom and dad there to guide and help.

“We definitely don’t want to be the pushy parents,” she said.

If he takes up surfing and takes after mom and dad, great.

“I’d love to be able to surf with my kids in the future,” Bethany said.

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