West Maui aqua athlete Lara Claydon ranks as Women’s SUP Surf National Champion
WEST MAUI – It is a dreamscape of Christian family unity within the aloha of island life that Lara Claydon grew to prosper in as one of Maui’s elite aqua athletes.
The oldest of Jes and Andy Claydon’s three children, Lara today rides atop the female standings of stand up paddling after capturing the Women’s SUP National Championship title in June.
The Claydon family moved to Maui when Lara was five years old, as dad Andy was called by God to bring the ministry of Young Life – an outreach ministry for high schoolers – to the Valley Isle.
Immersed in adventure and water sports to begin with, the family has found Maui perfectly suited for their island ‘ohana life.
Lara, brother Kai and sister Kiana all have flourished in the Valley Isle surf, and it looks to be just a matter of time before the younger Claydons begin to shine as big sis has.
Like so many Maui keiki, Lara had some of her enlightening surf experiences at Launiupoko Beach Park that started her brilliant rise in the SUP competition circuit.
Introduced to surfing and SUP by her dad, Lara also was influenced by Zane Schweitzer and Slater Trout at Launiupoko. They met there and thus began her SUP career.
“I fell in love right away, and Zane Schweitzer hooked me up with my first stand up board and paddle. We were surfing every day, before school, after school, all the time,” she said.
A year later, she competed in her first competition at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. Two years later, Lara won the Junior Pro Girls SUP Fiesta Championships, thus putting an exclamation point on what she wanted to do with her life.
She changed over to home schooling and charged into the SUP surfing competition circuit.
Now, six years later, Lara rides high on the Stand Up Paddle Surfing World Tour, as she heads for the second stop on the 2019 World Tour at Long Beach, New York in September.
She currently ranks as the Women’s SUP Surf National Champion and will represent Team USA at the ISA SUP & Paddleboard World Championships this fall at a site to be determined.
Lara expresses her utmost appreciation to her family and also extended sincere gratitude to Lahainaluna High School Trainer Jon Conrad, Galan Sports Chiropractic, Suzie Cooney, Choice Health Bar, and The Block Lahaina.
She also recognized her water polo coach, Bradley Mason, and swimming coach Tom Popdan, who nurtured her athletic endeavors in multiple sports.
Her professional SUP surfing career would not be possible without the support of her cast of sponsors, including Black Project SUP, Honolua Surf Co., Raw Elements Sunscreen, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Creatures of Leisure, Hi-Tech Surf Sports, Jim Falk Motors, Matuse Wetsuits, and UFO Parasail.
“Thank you all for believing in me and supporting me chasing my dreams,” Lara said.
“Suzie Cooney has been a huge influence on my life, as I recently started training with her and have seen such an improvement physically, but also in my mental game and mindset. She has been an amazing coach and inspiration for me! The Schweitzer and Trout ‘ohanas have also had a major influence on my SUP career. They all helped me get into the sport and have always helped me with support and encouragement.”
Lara saved her most important nod for her parents and, along that same pathway, to God.
“My mom and dad are the biggest role models and inspirations in my life, by far. They are my best friends, coaches, and such a big part of my life. They inspire me to work hard and always be my best with encouragement, and show me how to honor Jesus with everything that I do,” she said.
“I am so thankful and blessed to have such an incredible family that supports one another in all we do!”