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I departed for Bali weeks after an Olympic Trials that was bittersweet for my family, my brother leaving the meet with 4th and 5th place finishes in the breaststroke events.
Remarkable accomplishments, for sure, but in the swimming world, that reality is far too hard to recognize for someone who was so close – mere tenths away from – one of the coveted spots on the Olympic team. Still, all three Wilson siblings at the same Olympic Trials has been a longstanding goal in our family, so no matter the outcome, I could walk away from the meet feeling satisfied.
I emerged from Trials feeling I reached the lees of my talent in the pool. Professionally, I was at somewhat of a crossroads as well – after a rewarding four years working full time as a newspaper reporter, I was unsure of the next step. The strong draw to the water that got me through early-morning practices for so many years started to manifest itself in a different way: I bought a plane ticket to Bali and decided to immerse myself in the world of surfing.
In the ocean, I turn to Dolfin Bellas, the only bikini that stays on no matter how badly I wipe out in the waves. It seems trite, but every female surfer I speak to faces the same dilemma: most brands have been unable to manufacture a suit that can withstand the heavy churning that is inevitable when you are catching the world-class waves we are lucky enough to find here in Indonesia. My friend, Tara, a young woman from the Phillipines, has resigned to surfing in a sports bra for lack of a better option.
I have put my Bellas through the wringer, quite literally, in many a wipeout and closeout set taken straight to the head. And they have proved reliable every time. Surfing in Bali, I learned upon moving here, is far different than surfing on the east coast of the U.S. The waves here are steep, fast and heavy. They require much greater skill than does the mushy wind chop characteristic of my home break up north. I got smashed in the waves quite a bit in my first few weeks here – having a reliable suit made the adjustment process much more enjoyable!