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When it comes to being a good surfer or lifeguard, sometimes it’s what you do out of the water that makes the biggest difference.

By Jake Howard

This summer, the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center is teaming up with the San Clemente Junior Lifeguard Foundation to bring a series of “role model” talks to town. The goal is to expose young watermen and waterwomen in South Orange County to a variety of role models, including lifeguards, pro surfers and other notable athletes and influencers. Open to the public, there will be three different talks over the course of the summer, all dealing with varying subject matter.

“We did one last year with Shaun Tomson and were overwhelmed by the response, so we’re coming back bigger and better this summer,” says Greg Hulsizer, who is organizing the talks. “We’ll be covering a number of different topics and have some amazingly talented speakers donating their time to help support and inspire this next generation of lifeguards, surfers and water people.”

From lessons in water safety to beach games, there's lots of reasons to jump for joy when you're a junior lifeguard. Photo Courtesy of the San Clemente Lifeguard & Junior Guard Foundation
From lessons in water safety to beach games, there’s lots of reasons to jump for joy when you’re a junior lifeguard.
Photo Courtesy of the San Clemente Lifeguard & Junior Guard Foundation

The first talk—“Safety First! If Something Happens, Will You Know What to Do?”—will be on Saturday, June 22 at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente. It will be led by San Clemente resident and World Surf League physician Dr. Warren Kramer and feature San Clemente lifeguard John “Cheddar” Chetwynd, big-wave charger Rusty Long, ocean safety expert and instructor Morgan Hoestery, and lifeguard/professional surfer and emergency room nurse Marissa Shaw. The focus will revolve around what everyone needs to know if something goes wrong when we are out swimming, surfing or playing in the ocean.

On July 20, the second lecture—“Let’s All Share the Stoke!”—will focus on the power of positivity in the water. It will deal with topics such as surfing etiquette, anti-bullying and the importance of “sharing the stoke” by caring for our environment and giving back. Hosting the talk will be esteemed Orange County Register reporter and San Clemente resident Laylan Connelly. She’ll be speaking in an open forum with Dane, Patrick and Tanner Gudauskas; local pro surfer Crosby Colapinto; local super groms Sierra Downer, Tyrone Fomenko and Nate Pierce; as well as Jaysea DeVoe, Natasha Overin and high school Surfrider Foundation representative Zach Meyler.

Finally, rounding out the summer offerings, the topic on Aug. 10 will be “Girl Power in the Ocean!” An exciting opportunity for boys and girls alike, World Surf League commentator Rosy Hodge will be leading the discussion, which will feature Patti Paniccia, professional women’s surfing pioneer, attorney, author, broadcast journalist and law professor; San Clemente surfing legend Sheri Crummer, stand-up paddle icon Candice Appleby, young San Clemente all-star surfer Mia “Mouse” McLeish, and other pro surfers and waterwomen.

When it comes to filling up the groms’ schedule, there’s no shortage of good stuff going on around San Clemente and Dana Point this summer. But this role model series of talks at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center is a unique opportunity to slow things down a little, hear from some of the most accomplished athletes from our local waters, and appreciate the roles that lifeguards, surfers, paddlers and other ocean-going folks have in our vibrant community.

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