The athlete, who is heading to her first Olympics this summer, tells PEOPLE she's "super excited" to "showcase how fun surfing is" during the Games
caroline marks
Credit: Gari Askew II

Caroline Marks is about to ride her wildest wave yet.

As the 19-year-old prepares to make her — and USA Surfing's — Olympic debut this summer in Tokyo, Marks tells PEOPLE she is "super excited" to teach the world more about the sport and show off skills in the water.

Marks, who is currently ranked number two in the world and is the youngest surfer to ever qualify for the women's Championship Tour, says going to the games is the "coolest thing to ever happen" and just talking about it "gives [her] the chills."

"I think it's going to be incredible. I'm excited to represent my country and see what it's like," the athlete says. "I want to showcase how fun surfing is and how cool of a sport it is and how different and diverse it is."

Despite surfing from such a young age — Marks says she took up the sport as a kid to "impress [her] brothers" — she admits she "100 percent still gets nervous" while out in the water.

"That's what makes it exciting though, is exciting nerves," she says. "The [morning] report says it's going to be this wave, but it's actually totally different. It's bigger or smaller, or windier, it changes so much. And that's what makes [surfing] so cool and I think that's what makes it forever exciting."

caroline marks
Credit: Gari Askew II

"There are so many things that are out of your control when you surf," she continues. "And I think you have to focus on the things you can control."

Going into this year's Games, which were postponed a year due to COVID-19, Marks says she feels "that much more ready and that much more confident and dialed in with my boards and my surfing."

"My mindset when [the postponement] happened was just like, 'Oh, I'm just going to work harder and come back even stronger for the year after,' " she recalls. "I have just been staying ready, so I never have to get ready. And I think surfing is just so much fun to me, so it's been easy just to surf every day."

As someone who is out in the bright sun and water every day, Marks wants to highlight the importance of eye health by partnering with the American Optometric Association (AOA).

This month, Marks and the AOA are launching Eye Deserve More, a national campaign to take a stand that every American deserves in-person comprehensive care from a doctor of optometry as part of their overall health and well-being.

"If health is important to you, I think, eye health is in that category and it's important to see your optometrist once or twice a year in person," Marks says. "It's as simple as a 20-minute appointment."

"I think that if you see an optometrist now and take care of your eye health, now, something you can avoid in the future is having eye problems," she adds.