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Check Out the Fiercest Woman On the Water

Check Out the Fiercest Woman On the Water

By Amy Schlinger

Lakey Peterson knows what it's like to be the best. The surfer secured the National Scholastic Surfing Association Open Women's Title by performing the first-ever aerial maneuver in a women's competition at just 14-years-old. Now, six years later, she’s currently ranked fourth in the World Surf League Championship Tour.

As today marks the 11th annual International Surf Day — where in addition to riding the waves, participants also support the beaches by organizing cleanups, habitat restorations and other acts promoting coastal protection — we're celebrating by honoring some of the badass women of the water. SELF caught up with Peterson as she preps for next month’s U.S. Open of Surfing to learn how she came to love the sport, her summer bucket list and why she despises leg day at the gym. Here are the nine things you need to know about the pro surfer:


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1. Surfing wasn’t her first love 
"I grew up around the beach and around the sport, but I was a big tennis player and thought that is what I’d be doing. When I was 12, I signed up for a surf contest and fell in love."

2. She loves kettlebell training
"Surfing is really explosive, so you want to be strong Kettlebells make you powerful and explosive, but keeps you lean."

3. She hates leg day
"Once a week I do single-leg training — squats, deadlifts, etc. I don't know why, because I'm not that bad, but I hate it. Maybe it's the burn factor or maybe because I actually am weaker in that area than I realize. I usually enjoy working out but not on single-leg day."

4. She loves the moment of clarity surfing provides
"It makes me, more than anything else I've done, be in the moment. In today's world, things are so fast-paced and there’s so much going on, and that's great. But when you paddle into a wave and stand up…that moment, there's nothing like it."

5. She’s planning to hit up Yosemite
"I want to explore and I'd love to climb Half Dome."

6. She craves the challenge
"Surfing takes you out of your comfort zone. You can always challenge yourself and grow. I’ve never surfed and been bummed after. It makes you feel really fresh and free."

7. She has come close to drowning
"In an action sport, there are always scary moments. When I was in Hawaii on the North Shore challenging myself by surfing some bigger waves, I was held under for a long time and had wave after wave hitting my head. It becomes more of a mental battle to overcome at that point. I knew I needed to get out of the situation, but also had to tell myself not to freak out and just relax."

8. She needs alone time
"At competitions there are a lot of cameras and people around you, like my coach, who I need and love. But I try to take some time for myself and get into a relaxed state. When I find my space and take a second to be grateful and calm, I end up surfing better."

9. She wants beginners to stick with it
"The first time you go surfing, go in with an open mind. When you do stand up — which will take time to learn because there’s lots of elements and moving parts to it — no matter how long it takes, days or weeks, it will all be worth it. Learning, falling and getting up, take it all in."

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