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CARLSBAD, Calif. – When Liv Stone catches a wave, the 17-year-old looks a little different. That used to make her self-conscious, but not anymore.

Liv Stone, a 17-year-old surfer living in Carlsbad, said surfing gave her confidence after being born with a congenital limb difference. (Provided photo)

“I almost get questions every time I’m out there,” Stone said. “I’ll go out and there’s old geezers out there trying to keep up with me and be like, ‘I’ve been surfing for 60 years and you’re out here rippin’.’

“They ask me questions, I explain my situation and then they let me catch some waves.”

Stone’s situation came about due to a congenital birth defect which left her with arms which end just above the elbow and with just two fingers on each hand.

She said she wasn’t much into sports until about three years ago when she met Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who famously lost her left arm in a 2003 shark attack. The two met at a faith-based retreat in Del Mar.

“It was my first time surfing ever, and I got to surf with (Hamilton) and it was just incredible,” she said. “It came so naturally. And then I went home to Pennsylvania and I traveled back and forth to California doing different adaptive surfing events, but still based in in Penn. And I loved every second of surfing.”

In fact, Stone enjoyed it so much so that in 2019, she moved to Carlsbad to surf more often. She also found some prosthetic paddles to wear on her hands to help with paddling out.

And while competing in the adaptive surf standing division, she earned a spot on Team USA’s Paralympic surf team, winning two golds and one silver medal at the world championships.

All of that has helped the senior at Classical Academy High School break out from her shell into an outgoing teenager.

“At the end of the day, I am super confident now because without me being born this way, and without God’s gifts that he has given me, I wouldn’t be here now,” she said. ” I wouldn’t be in California. I wouldn’t be surfing. I wouldn’t have three gold medals. I wouldn’t be doing this right now and impacting as many people and I just believe that it is my calling to do this and I’m just overjoyed to share my story.”