Llywelyn Williams: an inspiring adaptive surfer | Photo: Williams

Grabbing a surfboard and riding the waves was the key to recovery for Llywelyn Williams after losing his leg in an accident.

Now, the 26-year-old hopes to encourage more people of all abilities to try the sport by organizing adaptive surfing events.

Llywelyn's passion for the sport began when he started surfing at the age of 12 at Porth Ceiriad and Porth Neigwl, near his home in Abersoch.

He showed promise and competed locally, but a few years later, a road accident almost scuppered his dreams of surfing professionally.

While skateboarding home, he was hit by a car and suffered life-threatening injuries, including dislocating both hips, a head injury, a broken femur, a shattered pelvis, a punctured lung, perforated bowel, and a split liver.

Llywelyn spent several weeks at The Royal Liverpool Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma.

Doctors desperately tried to save his leg, but two weeks after the accident, Llywelyn's family were told that the limb had become severely infected and would have to be amputated to save his life.

Against staggering odds, Llywelyn overcame his injuries. He accepted the loss of his leg but rejected the idea of losing hope.

Llywelyn Williams: the surfer lost his leg after being hit by a car while skateboarding home | Photo: Williams

Overcoming Disability

Due to his tenacious spirit, he was back in the water less than a year after the accident.

"My mates carried me down the stairs," Llywelyn recalled

"I had a bodyboard, and they would chuck me into the waves. I still had my old wetsuit with both legs, so one was flopping around in the water."

"As the first wave hit me and I came back up, I felt alive again, and I felt 'wow! This is magical'. Surfing is the best."

"When I'm in the water on my surfboard, nothing else matters. It is a fantastic sport for people of all abilities."

Llywelyn discovered adaptive surfing and began competing again, this time in the kneeling category.

He won gold at the English Adaptive Championships in 2018 and represented Wales at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Adaptive Championships in California.

While competing there, he flew the flag for Adventure Parc Snowdonia as a suitable venue and sparked more interest in the surfing scene in Wales.

Llywelyn Williams designed the 2022 Welsh Adaptive Surfing Championships, an inspiring and thrilling competition taking place at Adventure Parc Snowdonia in Conwy.

AmpSurf, an organization set up to inspire and rehabilitate people with disabilities, is supporting the event.

Each of the surfers participating in the championships has overcome significant personal challenges to compete at such a high level.

"Interest in adaptive surfing has grown so much," added Llywelyn.

"When I first entered the world championships in 2015, there were just 60 entries. Now it's closer to 100, and the standard is so high."

A Wave Pool for Adaptive Surfing

Adaptive surfing will feature in the 2028 Paralympics for the first time, and the 2022 championship includes several hopeful contenders, including Llywelyn.

The event at Adventure Parc Snowdonia in Conwy promises plenty of thrills, spills, and excitement, with competitors traveling from as far away as Hawaii, South Africa, and California to participate.

The man-made lagoon on the former aluminum site in Dolgarrog became the world's first inland venue to host an adaptive surfing championship event in 2019.

After a break during the pandemic, adaptive surf athletes around the globe are keen to see it return to North Wales.

The surfers will compete in nine categories and a range of abilities.

"Adventure Parc is the perfect venue for this competition," explained Llywelyn.

"It has fantastic man-made waves that are consistent and reliable, and it offers some great facilities for the athletes and the spectators, including good food and wheelchair-friendly accommodation pods."

Admission is free to watch the event, and Llywelyn hopes visitors will take advantage of the great views around the lagoon to get a closer look at the sport.

"Llywelyn is a great bloke and an even better athlete. His courage and determination to come back from what he has are admirable," notes Andy Ainscough, Adventure Parc Snowdonia managing director.

"On the biggest days at the beaches near Abersoch, Llywelyn is going for the biggest and scariest waves out there. He is a brilliant ambassador for the sport of surfing."

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