The August after I turned ten years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to swim on a serious, year-round swim team or continue dance training and learn how to dance on pointe. They explained that since both were serious commitments, I could only chose one. At ten years old, I had spent the summer where I grew up in Ocean City, Maryland swimming two or three hour workouts with my summer recreational team, attempting to keep up with my dad and brother as they surfed, and had already accomplished my first open water swim and downwinder paddle…both without permission. But most days I was unable to walk down the stairs without falling, so I kissed my dance dreams goodbye and have been swimming, surfing, and paddling since.
I swam sprint and backstroke events for Franklin and Marshall College and held 10 Centennial Conference titles and a few records. After college, I started marathon swimming, competing in events that were six to 24 miles long. I started paddling surfski when I met my husband, JC, who is also a marathon swimmer and paddler. I was introduced to prone paddling at a Surftech clinic. My husband encouraged me to try, thinking I might like it with my surfing and swimming background. I was hooked from the start and immediately switched my main craft from surfski to prone. In the present moment, I enjoy paddling prone, surfski, outrigger canoe (OC6), swimming, and surfing.
Paddling traditional prone boards is a wonderful sport on its own and has improved my surfing and swimming. There are so many times that I am out training and I see dolphins, turtles, and fish, and when you are gliding along, arms in the water, you can’t help but to feel like you are one of the sea life. When I’m out on a downwinder, I feel so small and immense at the same time. Since you paddle with your hands, you are connected with the water in a way that is different than other paddle sports. Prone paddling has also allowed me to continue swim training without having to swim as intensely as the past 20 years. Florida’s gulf coast isn’t exactly known for awesome and predictable surf, so being able to paddle daily and catch bumps frequently at least gets me on the water and on a board. When I head out to the east coast for a surf session, I’m always amazed at how paddling has helped me stay in good surf form.
I am so honored to be part of the Surftech team. There is always someone there to support you at races, and you know you are standing by a company with excellent ideals.