Meet the 6 Surfers Set to Make Waves at the 2020 Olympics

Kolohe Andino, John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson are set to make history as the first U.S. Olympic surfing team.

By Tierney Bricker Jul 11, 2021 1:00 AMTags

Chasing waves and making history. 

For the first time ever, surfing will take center stage at the 2020 Olympics, with six athletes heading to Tokyo to represent the United States when the sporting event begins on July 23 after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic

The U.S. squad is made up of four surfers and two alternates, including superstar Kelly Slater, who has a strong chance of hitting the ocean later this month as both of his male teammates are coming back from major injuries, with one returning to the water just last month. 

On the women's side, all three competitors are pushing for equality within the sport and inspiring young girls with their messages of body positivity, kind of making us wish they were starring in a Blue Crush remake.

But the most important teammate? 

"With surfing, it's such a unique sport," Olympic surfer Caroline Marks recently told E! News. "It's one of the only sports where you rely on mother nature and I think that's what makes it so hard."

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And the schedule for surfing's debut at the Olympics is dependent on the weather conditions, with the competition slated to kick off on July 25. So, if conditions allow, the competition can be completed in four days, but it is possible that more time could be required. Translation: Like the surfers, viewers have just gotta ride the wave.

Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, get to know the six surfers going for gold...

Kolohe Andino

The 27-year-old from San Clemente, Calif., has won seven USA Surfing Champion titles and holds the record for winning the most National Scholastic Surfing Association titles of any male competitor, becoming the youngest to win one at age 15 in 2009.

Unfortunately, he had to miss the start of the 2021 season due to an ankle injury, but has been updating fans on his rehabilitation on Instagram after undergoing surgery in April, which has changed his perspective on competing.

"I'm ready to compete in a place of joy and lightness, with a sense that I'm not scared to lose," he told Red Bull. "I realize I'm happiest when I'm outside surfing. Why not really lean into that?"

Kolohe Andino

Kolohe married Madison Andino in 2018 and the couple announced in May that they were expecting their first child, a girl, with the athlete writing on Instagram. "Girl dads for the win!"

Some other fun facts about the surfer: His name means "rascal" in Hawaiian and his nickname is Brother, which originated from his two sisters who had trouble saying his name growing up. In a 2019 interview with Team USA, Kolohe revealed his training routine, which includes waking up at 3:30 a.m. to meditate before hitting the gym at 5 a.m. for a two-hour training session. From there, he hits the water for four hours before another training session at home before his 7 p.m. curfew.

John John Florence

Arguably the favorite to win the gold medal at the sport's inaugural Olympics, the 28-year-old Hawaii native won the Men's Championship Tour title in 2016 and 2017, making him just the fifth surfer in history to take home back-to-back titles. He's currently ranked No. 3 in the world. 

Like Kolohe, John John has had to overcome several injuries, including a ruptured ACL in 2019, which required surgery and almost took him out of the running to make the Olympics. But John John was able to snag the final spot on the U.S. team in December 2019, just beating out Kelly Slater. The following year, he won Pipe Masters 2020.

But John John suffered another blow, once again requiring surgery—this time on his other knee—in May.

"I woke up to the report from @drwarreng that everything went as well as possible, and the procedure I had will give me the opportunity to surf at full strength sooner than I had hoped," he wrote on Instagram following the procedure. "Feeling motivated to really know that the Olympics are attainable. I'm excited for this and I'm gonna do everything I can to make it happen!"

John John Florence

John John married his longtime girlfriend, Australian model Lauryn Cribb, in April 2020 and he recently started his outdoor apparel brand, Florence Marine X.

Some other fun facts about the surfer: He was named after John F. Kennedy Jr., who was nicknamed "John John." His hobbies include sailing, bee-keeping and filmmaking, and he's passionate about ocean conservation and sustainability.

Kelly Slater

To quote the World Surf League, "Kelly Slater is the greatest surfer of all time."

An 11-time world champion (winning five straight between 1993-1998), the 49-year-old legend is the sport's most well-known star and holds the record for being the youngest and oldest World Champion in men's history.

In December 2019, the Floridian just missed out on making the Olympics roster, snagging the alternate spot should Kolohe or John John not be able to compete in Tokyo due to their respective injuries. 

"I don't want to make it that way," Kelly told San Jose's Mercury News. "But if that is what it is I'll take my spot."

Kelly Slater

Kelly has been in a relationship with MIKOH Swimwear co-founder and surfer Kalani Miller since 2005, after famously dating Pam Anderson and reportedly romancing Cameron Diaz and Gisele Bundchen. Kelly has a 25-year-old daughter, Taylor Slater, from a previous relationship.

Some other fun facts about the surfer: Kelly co-starred in 27 episodes of Baywatch, playing Jimmy Slade in the early '90s. 

"I was very reluctant to do it," he admitted in a 2016 interview with Graham Bessinger. "I don't know how that happens but in my life at that time, that happened. I was so embarrassed that I was going to have to do the show and I just really didn't want to."

A talented guitar and ukulele player, he's performed with Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. He won back-to-back gold medals at the X Games in 2003 and 2004. Kelly serves as the executive producer of ABC's upcoming reality competition series The Ultimate Surfer, which he will also make appearances on.

Caroline Marks

When she was 15 the Florida native became the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the Women's Championship Tour and won the Rookie of the Year award in 2018. At 19, she's the youngest surfer competing at the Olympics, first qualifying for the team in December 2019 when she was still 17.

Caroline Marks

One of six children, Caroline was inspired to surf by her older brothers' passion for the sport.

"My family is everything to me," she recently told E! News. "That's what makes this journey so special for me is because I can share it with them. I have five other siblings and the reason I got into surfing is because of my older brothers and they're all my best friends. No matter where we are in the world, we always talk. I talk to them every single day and I can just feel the support halfway across the world or right with them."

Some other fun facts about the surfer: She follows the paleo diet, telling us, "It doesn't mean I eat steak all day, but a lot of protein and some good fats." She graduated from high school in 2020 and hopes to inspire young girls to do what they love and serve as a role model.

"No matter what path you choose in life, whether it's surfing or not surfing, do what makes you happy," she encouraged. " Shoot for the stars, try your hardest, you only live once—YOLO. Try your hardest, give it your all and have fun with it."

Carissa Moore

The 28-year-old Hawaii native has won four world championships since being crowned Rookie of the Year in 2010. The following year, she won her first title at 18 years old and still holds the record as the youngest world champion.

She's currently ranked No. 1 in the world and is a favorite for the gold medal heading into the Olympics.

Carissa Moore

Carissa married her high school sweetheart Luke in 2017 and the couple have two dogs, Maya and Tuffy.

Some other fun facts about the surfer: Jan. 4 is ''Carissa Moore Day'' in her home State of Hawaii. In 2018, she founded More Aloha, a non-profit program that aims to bring young women together in and around water to encourage and inspire one another.

Carissa opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder and body image in 2015, telling ESPN, "I struggled with binge-eating. That also led to, one time, trying to make myself throw up which wasn't something I'm very proud of. No one should ever think that low of themselves to inflict pain."

She later told PopSugar, "It's an ongoing journey and challenge," advising others to, "Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Find the time to really listen to yourself."

Lakey Peterson

Lakey, 26, is currently ranked No. 17 in the world and won the U.S. Open surfing championship at just 17 years old. Like Caroline and Carissa, she also won Rookie of the Year and was the first woman to ever complete an aerial maneuver in a competition when she was 14 years old.

The Santa Barbara native is headed to Tokyo as an alternate, just missing out on qualifying in 2019. In April, she suffered a lower back injury, which caused her to withdraw from competing in several major events on the 2021 tour. 

Lakey Peterson

Lakey married Australian surfer Thomas Allan in February 2019.

Some other fun facts about the surfer: She posed nude with her surf board for ESPN Magazine's annual Body Issue in 2019, a a bucket list item for the athlete. "I've always felt like I want to represent myself and young females in a really positive, healthy way," she told the publication. "The Body Issue shows that you can be confident and enjoy that and celebrate that in a really healthy and gorgeous way."

A fan of YouTube makeup tutorials, Lakey admitted to being a fan of Hailey Bieber's channel in a 2020 interview with PopSugar.

Check out E! News' 2022 Beijing Olympics homepage for news, photos and more.