Surfing community mourns deaths at Swami’s

Surfing community mourns deaths at Swami’s
Encinitas resident Kenneth Mann, 61, is one of two surfers to pass away at Swami’s Beach over the previous week. Mann died on Oct. 30 while surfing at the popular beach. On Nov. 2, another Encinitas surfer, Joy Froding, 57, passed away while surfing the same spot. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — Days after the Swami’s surfing community was rocked by the passing of Kenneth Mann, a local surfboard sander and fixture at the popular surfing spot, Joy Froding sent out a mass text to friends to assist in organizing a paddle-out in Mann’s honor.

The text said that she would work on the details after she returned from her morning surf.

Froding never returned.

Three days after Mann’s death, Froding died of a possible heart attack surfing the same waters where Mann’s body was found. The deaths have sent a chill through the tight-knit community of surfers who frequent Swami’s, one of the state’s most popular surfing areas.

“Joy and Kenny were part of the same crew,” said JP St. Pierre, CEO of Surfy Surfy, which sells surfboards manufactured by its sister company, the San Marcos-based Moonlight Glassing Surfboard Company, where Mann worked for the past 35 years. His likeness is included on Surfy Surfy’s logo, as he was one of the surfboard maker’s “original five.”

“We were still all coming to grips with Kenny’s death, and this was just a left hook to the gut,” St. Pierre said.

Froding was out surfing Monday morning with friends at Swami’s Beach when she suffered medical distress in the water and lost consciousness, according the Capt. Larry Giles of the Encinitas Lifeguards.

“Her friends and bystanders assisted her to the beach, they started CPR,” Giles said.

At 10:27 a.m. Encinitas Lifeguards received the call and on arriving, between the fire department, lifeguards and the paramedics, began administering advanced life support skills and techniques.

According to the County Medical Examiner’s report, the responding crews found Froding pulseless and apneic.

Froding was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas where emergency room staff continued resuscitative efforts. She was pronounced dead by hospital staff at 11:15 a.m.

As for Mann, deputies from the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station responded at 5:10 a.m. on Oct. 30 to a call of a possibly deceased surfer, according to a news release issued by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies and personnel from the Encinitas Fire Department located the man, later identified as Mann, in a wetsuit and still attached to his surfboard by a leash.

Authorities confirmed the man was dead without medical intervention, reported the medical examiner’s office.

Mann, 61, was a man of routine. He went to work six days a week for the past 35 years sanding surfboards. St. Pierre said Mann probably sanded close to 100,000 surfboards over that time span.

Friends described him as a quick-witted man with a sharp memory who “communicated through movie quotes,” especially “The Big Lebowski,” his favorite movie.

“He had excellent comedic timing,” St. Pierre said. “He’d come up to you at work and start stories with the same phrase, ‘This one time in the ‘70s.’”

He went through a long stretch where he became reclusive and consumed by his work, St. Pierre said, but since the start of the 2000s, he had started to come out of his shell and resumed “midnight surfing” regularly at Swami’s.

Froding, 57, moved to the area 10 years ago. She was known as an outgoing and gregarious spirit, an artist who was known for her painting, sculpture and jewelry designs.

St. Pierre said that many in the surfing community are coping with the tragedies the best way they know how — remember funny anecdotes about the pair and remaining upbeat and positive.

“I am impressed with how positively people are dealing with it,” he said. “The funny stories are definitely helpful.”

St. Pierre recounted a story of how Mann and his father were midnight surfing in the early ‘70s and how they were using their waterproof dive flashlights, which caused a surf crew on the bluff above to speculate that a UFO was spotted at the beach.

“To this day you will hear people talk about the night there was a UFO at Swami’s, but in reality, it was just glow sticks and dive flashlights,” St. Pierre said, with a laugh.

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