Surfing isn't yet a Paralympic sport. But this Hawaii team is tr - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Surfing isn't yet a Paralympic sport. But this Hawaii team is training like it will be

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KALAELOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Hawaii "adaptive" surf team is busy putting in the work as they eye a possible berth in the 2024 Paralympic Games.

Surfing isn't yet a sport in the Paralympics. But there's big hopes that it could happen soon, since the Olympics will debut surfing in 2020.

For this team, surfing is more than just a sport.

Team member Meira Duarte said being out in the water is special.

"I had an accident back in 2001 and in a wheelchair but I'm close to walking again," said Duarte, who is a team captain.

"Our team is what we call an adaptive surf team. So all of the surfers have disabilities," said Cara Short, executive director of Access Surf and the Adaptive Surf Team.

Twenty three years ago, at 16 years old, Zach Tapec broke his neck in a swimming accident.

He said being on a board and catching waves is what keeps him going.

"It's freedom. Another sense of freedom," he said. "The water is amazing. There are so many aspects that are life changing. One is that I don't need to be in my wheelchair."

The Access Surf team practices and competes once a month.

On Wednesday, they were at White Plains in Kalaeloa. Last year, they took fifth at the World Adaptive Surfing Championships in La Hoya, California.

"As everyone knows, surfing is in the Olympics now and so those of us with adaptive sports are very excited about the idea of (it being added to) the Paraolympics," Short said.

But competing is only part of the reward.

"The freedom of what Access Surf has blessed me with, when I'm walking up on shore and I'm using a cane and sometimes I stumble and fall over, it's amazing because when I'm out on the water, everybody thinks I don't look disabled, you know?"

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