Ranked as one of the top 50 female surfers in the world and the winner of several impressive awards—including gold medals and international championships—Tia Blanco has has a very impressive resume for somebody who’s barely left her teen years.
THE CLYMB: How did you get started surfing? Is this something you’ve done since you were a child?
TIA BLANCO: I have been surfing since I was three years old. My dad was the first person to push me into a wave when we were living in Hawaii. He is in the Coast Guard so we have always been able to live in places with great surf. When I was 12 years old I started taking the sport more seriously and began to pursue a professional career.
THE CLYMB: You progressed very quickly from being an amateur to winning your first title. Can you tell us about that?
TIA BLANCO: Every contest and every surf trip has helped me tremendously to become the person and surfer I am today. Each triumph and defeat were all crucial for me. After each loss I really dig deep to figure out exactly what went wrong and I always walk away having learned so much. I think my losses helped me win my first world title at the ISA games. I am still learning so much and I have so many more goals in surfing that I hope to accomplish.
THE CLYMB: When you’re training for a special event, how many hours do you spend in the water? And what’s your training schedule/system like?
TIA BLANCO: I am in the water every day. I try to surf for at least a few hours a day no matter what the conditions are. That never changes. When I am at home I try to do yoga and meditate every day. I really like to come up with my own flows. I also see a trainer several times a week when I am at home who helps me on my technique and strength as it relates to my surfing.
THE CLYMB: You’re a two-time ISA World Surfing Games gold medalist. Can you tell our readers more about the World Surfing Games?
TIA BLANCO: The ISA games is a very special event for me because it is an event where I can be a part of a team and represent my country. It is also a contest that is extremely lengthy and exhausting. You are not only worrying about yourself but each member of your team.
THE CLYMB: What makes them so tough?
TIA BLANCO: It is a crazy emotional roller coaster watching your teammates succeed or get defeated. It takes endurance and a strong mental state to win the ISA games.
THE CLYMB: The Summer Games in Tokyo 2020 are going to be special because they’ll include surfing. Are you hoping to make it there?
TIA BLANCO: I would love to make the 2020 Games for Team USA or Team Puerto Rico (I was born there actually). I have yet to hear too many details about it, but I’m very excited about the fact that surfing is getting recognized as an Olympic sport. That should bring a lot of eyeballs and interest to the sport from around the world. A lot can happen in three years so it will be interesting to see how things unfold until then.
THE CLYMB: You’re perhaps as well-known for being an amazing surfer as you are for being a vegan/yogi. How does one part of your life affect the other?
TIA BLANCO: I think that surfing, health, and yoga all go hand in hand and help me to be the best person I can be mentally and physically. I definitely would say eating a plant-based diet benefits my practice as a yogi and a surfer because I always seem to have a lot of energy throughout my workouts. Also, I feel as if my yoga benefits my surfing because it helps me with pliability.
THE CLYMB: What led to you becoming vegan?
TIA BLANCO: I have been vegetarian all my life but several years ago I started to read a lot of literature on the vegan lifestyle and I decided to change my eating habits. I haven’t looked back since. People that think you can’t eat well and get enough protein as a vegan should check out my foodie Instagram account @tiasvegankitchen for recipes and ideas on how to be a practicing vegan. There are so many great companies making vegan products (I work with both VeganSmart and Beyond Meat) for on-the-go meals and protein as well.
THE CLYMB: What do you do when you’re not surfing? What else do you do for fun?
TIA BLANCO: When I’m not surfing I like to hang with my family and friends. I also love to unwind with gentle stretching, movies, and meditation. I also love to cook and spend a ton of time in the kitchen with my mom.
THE CLYMB: What’s coming for you? Any particular goal or challenge you’d like to pursue next?
TIA BLANCO: I would love to make the CT (World Surfing League’s Championship Tour) which consists of the best 15 women surfers in the world. To make the CT I have to travel around the world and compete in Qualifying Events. My next event is in Japan and I am very excited to travel there!