Stephanie in the water

Five-time ASP Women's World Champion talks about her journey through hell and back.

Midway through the 2014 ASP World Championship campaign, Stephanie Gilmore is ranked third in the world and in the hunt for her sixth surfing world title. We caught up with Gilmore, 26, in Los Angeles during a rare break in her summer schedule. You can see some of that conversation in the "World Of X Games: Women Of Action" show, airing Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. Below, we talk with Gilmore about her upcoming film, "Stephanie in the Water," which will be available for download Aug. 5. You've had a tumultuous few years. How are you feeling today?
Stephanie Gilmore: I'm good. I'm feeling great. I'm injury-free. And I'm traveling the world. I pretty much have the best job in the world. You'd be happy, too, if you had my job.

You refer to last year as a year that didn't exist, a breather. How do you feel the 2014 season has gone for you so far?
The 2014 season started with a bang. I'm on the attack. I'm not defending the world title this year, so I'm in a different position. I started out really hungry. I came out strong and won the first event at my home break at Snapper Rocks, and that took the pressure off. The next three events, I was a little too relaxed and probably still excited for my first win. I let my guard down. The last event in Fiji, I felt that was my moment to really shine and get another win. I ended up coming in second, but it was a good moment for my confidence. Halfway through the season, I feel great.

Courtesy "Stephanie In The Water"

Stephanie Gilmore has a little quality downtime with her guitar.

Of all the changes to the ASP this season, what are you most excited about?
We haven't had events in waves that have really challenged us for a few years. All of us girls, we're so talented and we want to push ourselves, and we just haven't had that platform as of late. I think the biggest change for us, especially, is having these events back on tour that really challenge us, where we're forced to ride bigger boards and your adrenaline is running like crazy. You're sitting out in the lineup going, "Oh my gosh, am I about to drown? Am I about to get smashed on the reef?"

Aside from competing, you've been filming a movie for the past few years. It's a very personal portrait of your life. What was that experience like?
It's pretty nerve-racking because it's a very intimate documentary. I started filming with Ava Warbrick [daughter of Rip Curl founder Claw Warbrick], who is now a really good friend of mine. We met through surfing, but she lives in New York and has an art and film background and knowledge of surfing. At first, we were like, let's just make some webisodes and do something fun about surfing and traveling.

How did the film blossom into what it is now?
As our friendship grew, we continued to travel, and I was very comfortable with the camera following me around. Ava took me out of my world of surfing and said, "Let's go run around Paris. Let's go run around New York. Let's see what else you're interested in and capture it on film." Athletes don't usually do that. They don't want to break the routine. That is what's special about surfing. We're able to cross into different worlds.

Courtesy "Stephanie In The Water"

No stranger to the red carpet, Gilmore is seen here in the limelight at the 2010 Surfer Poll Awards on Oahu.

For how many years did you film?
We started filming back in 2009, and as the years went on, the story kept unfolding and getting better and juicier. There was drama and world titles and Ava and I started to realize this is going to be something bigger and better. We finished filming in 2012 and the story was incredible. So we said, let's make it a really beautiful portrait documentary and something that the surfing world hasn't seen. It's unique and it's true to myself. It's a glimpse into the lifestyle I live, which is very special.

What message, if any, do you hope people take from the film?
It's a film about a young girl figuring herself out. I was questioning myself, like, why am I doing this? Why do I want to keep winning? Nothing physically happens when you win a trophy. You don't gain a superpower. You just get a trophy. This movie is about me feeling and figuring out my motivation. It's about a young girl seeing what she wants to achieve and how far she can go to be the best person she can be and live her dream.

"Stephanie In The Water" will be available for download on Aug. 5, and U.S. screening dates will follow.

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