California is making a big splash as it prepares three Olympic hopefuls who are vying to compete in the first-ever surfing competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Team USA will be sending two men and two women to represent the country. Among the potential candidates is Santa Barbara native surfer Conner Coffin, 26, who is currently ranked 11th in the world.
"It's like being on the top of a roller coaster," Coffin said. "That anticipation and then feeling that drop and that speed -- It's such a sense of freedom, and that's what I love about it."
U.S. & World
Coffin hopes to solidify his place in Olympic history by competing in surfing's debut at the Tokyo games next summer.
"What's great about surfing being in the Olympics is just sharing this culture that we all love so much with a bigger audience," Coffin said.
Coffin grew up in Santa Barbara with his younger brother Parker, who said there are no bad days when they get to go out to the ocean and ride some waves.
"He's really strategic and smart about where he turns, and he just has a knowledge for the ocean that most people don't have," Parker said.
A home video shows a five-year-old Coffin riding his first waves and literally falling into his passion.
"I just fell so in love with the sport. I was like, 'How can I do this all the time?'" he said.
Coffin said he enjoys the "zen" part of waiting for the right wave as well as the physical aspects of the sport.
"The way we surf, and like trying to do all the tricks and turns that we do, your hips take a beating," Coffin said. "All that rotation and power comes from your hips connecting with your cord down to your knees and ankles and toes, then to your board."
Coffin grew up on extreme sports. His favorite Olympic moment belongs to another season and a different kind of "boarder."
"When Red Gerard won the downhill slope style on the snowboard last year, that gave me full goosebumps," Coffin said.
The enthusiasm was returned by the gold medalist, who said he is a "massive" fan of Coffin's.
"I love his surfing, and I've been trying to learn surfing as well. I've been trying to pick it up. It's very hard, so it's really cool to hear him say that," Gerard said.
During the next few months, Coffin will be busy with Olympic qualifying events, but he keeps the intensity in check by thinking back to the wisdom and teachings offered to him by his grandfather.
"Just stay confident, and keep pushing," Coffin said. "The more I enjoy it, the more I'm grateful for what I'm doing."
If you want to check out more of Coffin's surfing, check out his Youtube channel.
The official team roster will be announced in December.