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2 Hawaii teen surfers recount journey to gold on world stage

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Most 18-year-olds are still deciding what they want to do in life. But for Luke Swanson and Eweleiula Wong, they’re already winning gold medals in their sport.

Swanson and Wong were part of Team Hawaii Surf and recently won gold in the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in El Salvador, beating out other individual competitors.

“I feel like it honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Wong said. “It’s truly a surreal experience. I’ve never experienced something like this before.”

They were also part of Team Hawaii, who beat out 45 other countries and 400 competitors with their first-place win.

It’s also Hawaii’s first team gold medal since 2014.

“I feel like surfing is such an individual sport and to have a whole team back you up, especially at somewhere like El Salvador, like away from home, is such an amazing feeling,” Wong said.

Swanson said winning was such a proud moment for him, especially because they’re from the birthplace of surfing.

“It kind of feels like we’re at an advantage, just confidence-wise, going into the event ‘cause they’re all coming here,” Swanson said. “We’re all coming together to really showcase our talent in this sport that came from Hawaii.”

Wong has been surfing was 2 years old. She remembers surfing the waters of Waikiki with her dad.

Swanson, who grew up on the North Shore, said he was 4 or 5 when he started.

“My favorite thing about surfing is probably more recently just the release, just being out on the water and having no thoughts, except the waves coming by and standing up on waves and surfing waves,” he said. “It’s just, there’s no feeling like it.”

In this episode of Island Beat, Billy V talks to Wong and Swanson about their experience at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships and where they’re headed next — and it might involve the Olympics.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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