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Training Keys to Reclaim the Big Wave Wonder Surfer Billie Kimber

Let’s go to the bottom of the list of what was bothering you Billy Kemper:

The right lung is shattered, close to complete collapse
Cracking of the pelvis from the top to the hip joint
Trauma to the quadriceps muscle
– The Asian Champions League is torn
– MCL ripped
Tearing of the meniscus
Weeks of pain most people could not stand for a minute

One year ago, at the height of his career with a wife and four children, 30-year-old Billy Kemper found himself shattered – not in an emotional sense. The middle of his body was literally split in half. However, by early December 2020, Kemper is back in Jaws In Maui, the final big wave venue.

If he had allowed himself to separate emotionally, he would not have come home.

Cumber in Morocco Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

He rides on his fourth Jaws Big Wave Championship The title, obtained while surfing the Internet at one time, is among the best in the world Pipeline masters And win in The sunset is open In early 2020, Kimber boarded a plane and headed to Morocco in a huge series of waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was there that an obnoxious exploding barrel broke Kimber like an egg on a shallow bottom, leading to the aforementioned grocery list of injuries.

Kimber in surgery
Kimber in surgery Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

Documenting Billy Kemper’s steps toward recovery

at recent days , World Surf Association It released the first episodes of the six-part docu series directed by Layne Stratton in one of the greatest recoveries in sports history.

The first several episodes present Kimber and his family and his rise to become the greatest surfer in the world. It passes through a strike mission to Morocco where, Luke Davis, And Koa Smith recorded cascading inflation from the bulky right pipe until Kemper passed over the handlebars in a heavy barrel and directly into a rock. They took him to the hospital, where he fights for life, and in the end he took a medical flight from Morocco. Then there is drama WSL Trying to bring it back to states where the COVID-19 pandemic has shut the world down.

Episodes 4 and 5 (which fall down Men’s magazine Today, March 21st) records Kimber’s surgeries and breakthrough recovery.

Kemper at PT
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

There have been weeks of pelvic surgery, pain management, basic physical therapy, hamstring grafts, knee surgeries, and four different stem cell transplants. He went from being unable to lift his leg an inch off the bed to six months of hard work rebuilding his warrior body.

“This was way above anything I’ve ever done,” Kimber explains. “The quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calf muscle, and my muscle, I had to rebuild them all from the bottom up.”

Golden State Rehabilitation

Kemper credits his rehabilitation to XPT training, A philosophy combining breathing, movement and healing designed to improve performance through exposure to natural elements, the program developed by Big Wave pioneer Laird Hamilton and his wife, professional volleyball player Gabby Rees. Kemper was already a certified Elite XPT Trainer Since 2019.

Billy Kimber raises up
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

He stayed in California, away from his family. The early stages were simply learning how to walk again.

He would begin his days in Venice with strength and conditioning at 6:30 am, and from there, it was up to Hamilton’s home for water training. Then he went to the Mamba Sports Academy in Kobe Bryant in Thousand Oaks for physical therapy. Every afternoon, he was on arrival to the Costa Mesa for tissue and fascial work. Will end up returning to Venice around 6 PM, 250 miles round trip.

“Laird and Gabe were a big part of this thing.” Kimber says. “They brought CrossFit underwater. They created exercises in an environment related to what I do. They applied recovery as the number one tool to perform at your highest level. I’m proof of that.”

Underwater camber training
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

Surfing has changed over the decades

Professional surfing during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s had more to do with barrel mounts than shoulder mounts. There have been various periods when tour riders or big wave chargers dive into fitness routines. However, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that it became more about athletics than all nights and was well timed with the dawn of Kimber’s career. Sure, he noticed Hamilton (now 57) and his approach from a young age.

“Laird was interested in taking care of your body long before any other surfer,” he explains. He took care of the work of breathing and the supply of oxygen to blood cells and entered it into a performance program with techniques for better and faster recovery. He combined it with his knowledge of fitness to really prepare yourself. ”

Kemper training with LairdLayne Stratton / WSL
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

Kemper has a long history of engaging in strength and conditioning, CrossFit, boxing, foundation exercises, and gymnastics.

“There are a lot of things I did to prepare for the winter season, but XPT was by far the most helpful,” says Kimber. This is what separated this from other recoveries. Just learning to walk again in the water, especially for someone like me. I must be in the ocean. But when you can’t surf for months at a time, being in the water is the next best thing. It nourished me on the mental side. Laird sees it. Mental healing is as important as physical therapy. “

Kimber pool training
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

Building up strength in the water

Kemper started by just walking in the pool and then walking in the water. He rebuilt his faltering lung by holding his breath and seeing gradual progress.

In the end, he would join Hamilton in a ridiculous behavior such as putting up a squat rack underwater for workouts and taking brisk 60-second rounds on an assault bike in a 200-degree sauna. They were cleaning and shaking with an 80-pound dumbbell at the bottom of a pool 12 feet deep.

“The training escalated,” Kimber laughs. “The timing was great. We were in Malibu in the summer. The water was our gym. With this epidemic, what should you focus on besides getting the best shape of your life?”

Kimber tube ride in Morocco
Lynn Stratton / Wall Street Journal

Back to the waves

It was his first surfing session at Surf Ranch, which WSL bought from Kelly Slater Holding Group. In a controlled environment, he was able to focus on the mechanisms of surfing rather than crowds, winds, and other variables for which the ocean is famous. Kimber has given good confidence to return to the ocean: “I feel like I’ve rebuilt my body the way I wish I had built 10 years ago.”

Doctors, coaches, therapists, and his local coach, Kahi Hart, were all supporting when he returned to Hawaii and rowing. And when the monstrous balls started moving the buoy readings, he was ready.

“I wasn’t able to fully reach until I got back to what made me who I am, which is riding the big waves,” he says. “There were a lot of boxes to check and I felt the last thing to check was a big box with“ lower jaw. ”Can my body handle this mentally and physically?

“That day … that was the first wave. I am very grateful for all these opportunities.”


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Written by Joseph

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