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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bethany Hamilton - Kauai Hawaii Surfing

On October 31, 2003, Hamilton went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai with friends Alana, Byron and Holt Blanchard. Around 7:30 a.m., she was lying sideways on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water, when a 15 ft tiger shark attacked her, ripping her left arm off just below the shoulder. If the shark had bitten 2 inches further in, the attack would have been fatal.

Bethany had lost almost 50% of her blood that morning. Her friends helped paddle her back to shore, and fashioned a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash around what was left of her arm before rushing her to Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Her dad was supposed to have a knee surgery that morning but she took his place in the operating room. She then spend six more days in recovery at the hospital.

Despite the trauma of the incident, Hamilton was determined to return to surfing. Three weeks after the incident, she returned to her board and went surfing again. Initially, she adopted a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker which made it easier to paddle. She has observed that she has to kick a lot more to make up for the loss of her left arm. After teaching herself to surf with one arm, she has again begun surfing competitively. She is now back to using competitive performance short-boards again..

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