2019 US National Women’s SUP Surf Champion
Wow, I have no words! US National Women’s Champion?
First off, thank you, Jesus! With five minutes remaining, I needed seven points to win & He sent me the set wave of the day, which I ended up scoring a nine-point three. My first ever nine-point ride. Mahalo to all my family & friends for your support, love & prayers. Big thank you to Black Project for making this whole trip happen & believing in me. Most of all, thank you to my dad & Suzie Cooney for all your coaching, long days at the beach, running heats & training days in the gym. Huge congratulations to Candice Appleby for taking second; you were ripping! In addition, thanks for the carry up the beach which was another dream that came true! Congratulations to my brother Zane Schweitzer on taking the Technical Racing & SUP Surfing win for the men. So excited to be on Team USA Surfing with you both. Thank you for all your support over the years! Very honored, grateful & excited to represent Team USA in the 2019 International Surfing Association World Championships this year in El Salvador.
The day is still a blur. After many long training days in the water, on the beach & in the gym, with my dad & Suzie Cooney, my dream became a reality! I remember sitting out there patiently waiting for the ideal wave, praying for Jesus to send the perfect wave to ride. Then a few seconds later, I looked out to the horizon & saw a set wave coming my way! I looked around & one other competitor was next to me; I yelled “going left”, & she yelled, “going right”. I could only smile; the wave lined up perfectly into the shore! I kicked out, looked to the beach & saw Chris Freeman and Zane Schweitzer jumping up & down, cheering.
Then the announcer announced, “Lara Claydon’s last wave coming in at a nine-point three!” What? It felt like the moment froze; 5 minutes remained in the heat; as I paddled back out, I heard the buzzer; the heat was over. I was the new US National Women’s SUP Surf Champion! Chris, Zane & the crew ran to the water’s edge & gave me the biggest hugs with huge smiles; I congratulated the other Women by giving them hugs. Then Candice said, “You need a chair up”, & put me on her shoulders. It was always my dream to be chaired up the beach & to make it even more remarkable that I was chaired up by the Women who helped me start my career in Stand-Up Paddling was even better!
Friends of mine came down to support me, and after the ceremony, we went & celebrated. All the hype & excitement was terrific, but it made me realize winning is good, but it’s the journey you take with the ones you love the most and that push you the hardest to get that win that matters and that you remember.