Intrinsic Motivation | Luke Swanson

Luke Swanson’s Year of Lockdown on the North Shore

About two years ago, we first showcased the freakish talent of Luke Swanson in our Introduction Edit when he initially joined the RC Team. By then, it was already clear that he may just be one of the best above (and under) the lip juniors around.

Fast forward two years, a couple North Shore winters, countless contests and a year of lockdown, the now 17-year-old has developed an even bigger bag of tricks while also fine-tuning his mental game.

If you follow Luke (@lukeswanson_), you’re treated to his weekly posts of mind-blowing airs and big ‘ol barrels - but we rarely get to see his well-spoken, charismatic personality on display.

While calling Luke about his edit, we were looking to get some background on his winter - you know, the usual: “Best Wave? Best Session? Talk us through that one...” However, after a few minutes we were welcomed into the fresh mental space that eventually led to the title, ‘Intrinsic Motivation’.

Luke went on to explain that this year was significantly different than the rest. Most winters are spent polishing every aspect of his surfing in prep for contests, filming days, etc. while worrying about whose watching or filming on the shore. This year, “that all got thrown out the window” he said.

"I didn’t care about surfing a certain way… the ‘right’ way. I wanted to deconstruct my surfing and really turn it into what I want." he said.

Lately, Luke has been working closely with North Shore legend and seasoned coach, Ross Williams. Normally, they’d be working on strategy, technique and fitness throughout winter - but this year, Luke wanted to bring it back to the fundamentals and surf how he really wants. “We’ve been really working on my approach and mind set going into every single wave. What should I do here, what would have I done in the past… really analyzing everything. The pressure was kind of off this winter, it was great to have that freedom to work on things.”

Luke also took the season to push himself in the larger stuff. Typically known for his world-class air game, Luke wanted to focus on the premiere North Shore spots like Pipe, Haleiwa and Sunset.

“When you’re out there on the big days, you just have to be okay with taking two steps forward, one step back. You go out to Haleiwa… the currents ripping, its 15 ft., pure fear. But you get a couple, survive that session and every day after that gets easier. Go out, rewind a bit, get more comfortable, do it again.”

Whether you’re well-aware of Luke’s talent or this is the first time his name has graced your screen - tap above to watch a relaxed Luke Swanson tear apart his beloved North Shore lineups.

Intrinsic Motivation: the act of doing something without any obvious external rewards.

Edit: Justin Jung