Just a water baby who has had the whole ocean as her playground. And now Jennifer Koki has her dream job not far from her favorite surf spot.
The 27-year-old recently passed the lifeguard exam, the only female in the newest class for the City & County of Honolulu. Stationed in the Waikiki District, she is currently at Ala Moana Beach Park.
"There are times when I sit there and can’t believe that it has happened," she said. "I get to do what I love where I love and help people.
"The test was real intimidating, super intense. There’s the medical portion and the physical portion. But I come from a family of lifeguards and I knew what it was all about."
She passed it on her first try.
Koki grew up surfing Waikiki but spent a lot of time out in Makaha with the late Rell Sunn as a mentor. Waterman and lifeguard "Uncle Brian" Keaulana also has been one of her role models.
Koki has had success as a professional longboarder but has found a new addiction in stand-up paddling. She completed the SUP Molokai-to-Oahu race in the tandem division and hopes to do the next one solo.
The Roosevelt High graduate uses her SUP board to take her land workouts to the water, doing squats, sit-ups and push-ups on the challenging, unstable surface.
Koki said she tried indoor sports growing up, including one year of high school basketball.
"But why be in the gym when you can be out in the ocean?" she said.