“How do you know what the limits are, unless you push past them?” – Karen Putz
Karen took up barefoot waterskiing as a teen after watching her older brother walk on water. One summer day, she tripped on a wake and in an instant, she went from hard of hearing to deaf. She could no longer hear anything without hearing aids perched in her ears. She stopped barefooting in her twenties.
At the age of 44, Karen figured life on the water was pretty much over with. She was overweight and very much out of shape. Her attempt to barefoot that summer resulted in nothing but water in her face.
Then life did a 180.
The hubby sent Karen a link to the Today Show, featuring 66-year-old Judy Myers, the world’s oldest female competitive barefoot water skier. Judy invited Karen to the World Barefoot Center, where she met two-time World Barefoot Champion, Keith St. Onge. Karen put her feet back on the water and returned to the sport that took her from hard of hearing to deaf as a teen.
Today, Karen is a sponsored skier at the World Barefoot Center where she receives training from Keith St. Onge, David Small (three-time World Barefoot Champion) and Coach Gary “Swampy” Bouchard.
Karen entered the competitive arena in slalom and tricks at the age of 45. She shared her experience at her first tournament: World Barefoot Center, My First Barefoot Tournament. She has been featured on espnW, AOL That’s Fit, Suburban Woman, The Waterskier, Waterski magazine, Growing Bolder, MORE magazine, ABILITY magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul–Find Your Happiness. Karen has written a how-to guide to barefoot competition: Barefoot Water Skiing, From Weekend Warrior to Competitor.
Karen’s sponsors play a vital role in making it all possible: Phonak, General Motors, Oak Cove Resort, Mayor Roger Claar, ZVRS, World Barefoot Center, Anytime Fitness Naperville and the Chicago Tribune TribLocal.
And wouldn’t you know it, even good ‘ole Abe Lincoln would have made a great barefoot water skier:
Be sure you put your feet down in the right place, then stand firm.
- Abe Lincoln