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By Andrea Swayne
School: Capistrano Virtual School
Kevin Kraatz is fairly new to competitive surfing—having been in only two events—and already has a win under his belt. He took top honors Sunday at the San Clemente Sea Fest Surf Contest in the 10 and under division in surf that was, at times, double overhead for the stoked fifth-grader.
“I felt super excited and really relieved,” Kevin said. “I was pretty nervous. I got to surf against all of my friends who are better than me so I felt very accomplished that I did so well. I really didn’t expect it at all. I charged the big waves because I wanted to win so badly and any wave I saw I just went for it.”
Kevin has been surfing for about a year, and it’s only been about five months since he’s been paddling out to the lineup by himself and catching his own waves. Before that, his dad was pushing him into small waves on the inside, he said. Now he practices every day.
“My brother is 13 and a surfer,” he said. “I was hanging out with him and his friends and thought, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ I wanted to be like my brother. It motivated me because I didn’t want to be just watching. I wanted to do what they were doing.”
Kevin’s other interests include playing water polo for his club team, Vanguard Aquatics in Huntington Beach and being a member of the San Clemente State Junior Lifeguards in the summer.
His goals include getting his first job as a lifeguard, playing water polo in college, someday earning a spot on the U.S. Water Polo Team and surfing professionally.
“I like surfing because it’s fun, but not easy,” Kevin said. “It’s hard and I like the challenge. I also like surfing with my friends and hanging out.”