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By Andrea Swayne
Maria Barend, 16, and her family recently bought a second home in San Clemente and are now spending time on both coasts, splitting their time between here and their home in Rhode Island. As an avid surf competitor, Maria is delighted to be able to stay in San Clemente for a couple of months at a time to take advantage of good swells and surf contests.
Maria is a homeschooled high school sophomore with plans to attend college, preferably Point Loma Nazarene University, after she graduates.
Born in Hawaii into a surfing family, the sport has always been a part of Maria’s life, although she really got into it when she was 12. Her mother was a former pro surfer (Ana Gallotti Barend, Brazil) and her father Chuck, a longtime surfer from Florida.
“I surf a lot with my twin brother Edward, too,” Maria said. “He doesn’t surf competitively but we are definitely surf buddies.”
Maria found her love for surfing while living in Rhode Island.
“When we moved to Rhode Island, my parents just wanted us to have a childhood and to experience life without surfing for a while,” Maria said. “Because they saw in Hawaii it can be kind of tough, especially if the kid doesn’t really love surfing. I was a ballerina for about 10 years but I always watched my parents surf. I would be taking pictures of them and thinking to myself that it looked really fun, so I started going out more and more. When I was about 12 it just stuck with me and I couldn’t get enough.”
Besides surfing, Maria also enjoys art, skateboarding, snowboarding, writing, cooking and knitting.
Maria began her amateur surf career traveling the East Coast to compete in the few available contests she could find. Having more events in which to test her mettle is one of Maria’s favorite things about having a home here.
“I love San Clemente,” Maria said. “The waves are so fun and the people are so warm. It’s awesome to be around such a nice environment and nice people. We don’t really have many contests back home and I love how it’s so local here and there are so many events. And I love how the competitors here are more like a big family in WSA and Surfing America Prime.”
Maria is training hard and competing as much as possible in an effort to continue taking her surfing to another level. Besides surfing, she works out with weights, running and yoga.
“I do whatever I can to get stronger,” Maria said. “I just want to go the farthest surfing can take me, try my hardest and have the most fun I possibly can. If that gets me to being a pro surfer, great, but if not, that’s OK too. I am just going to try my best.”
Maria’s strength in surfing is “a good frontside flow,” she said, adding that she is currently focusing on honing her technique in order to become more progressive and powerful.
“I am very thankful to be in San Clemente and for all the other opportunities in my life,” Maria said. “I thank my family and my friends for their support. And I thank God for everything.”