This is the eighth and final article in a series on the Swami’s Surfing Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Special to The Coast News
On a warm Saturday morning in August, just as he was about to embark on one of the club’s beach cleanups, I caught up with SSA president Marcelo Lobos. Marcelo has been the driving force behind the Association for the past two years. His keen focus on both surfing and the responsibility he feels the club has to our community were common themes in his answers to questions.
What direction are you bringing to the club in your role as president?
I wanted to see the club exhibit the kind of energy it had back in the ‘60s while getting more involved with our community. I’m very excited about the way members are supporting events like the Blind Surf and our involvement in the Wounded Warrior program on Camp Pendleton. Putting a smile on the faces of those who are physically challenged, along with providing a break for the brave men and women who’ve put their lives on the line for our freedom is something we’ll continue to do. I’m also very impressed with our members who organized the recent youth surfing contest at Moonlight Beach. We had over 80 kids show up including some from Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Tahiti and Hawaii. The turnout exceeded our expectations and supporting our youth is a key focus for us. We need to get them involved in a fun format as they’ll be the future leaders of the SSA.
The Association started out as a group of hot young surfers banding together to compete against other clubs. Where has this community involvement momentum come from?
It all came from members having ideas on giving back. When they had a concept we’d put it before the board of directors and generally the member in question would make it happen. We now have the all the events you’ve heard about, as well as a scholarship program with San Dieguito Academy. Who would have thought a surf club would be fostering higher education but we see it as a leadership role we want to embrace.
The big annual Return to the Reef contest is taking place in Cardiff both days this coming weekend. What can people expect?
First and foremost, hot surfing from some of the best professional and amateur talent in the state. This is going to be our biggest contest so far and we got some help from the County Board of Supervisors through our Supervisor Dave Roberts who gave us a Community Enhancement grant. That’s helping us expand the reach of our marketing. Visitors are also going to be able to see products from our sponsors at the expo and take part in raffles and other events. All the proceeds from the weekend are funneled back into our community programs. It should be a fun time for everyone.
Any last thoughts before you pick up your trash bag and head for the beach?
Just that people should check us out. We’re a family and community oriented association with something for everyone. If you want to surf with friends, we’re here. If you want to help with community events, come on down. If it’s youth programs that you’d like to support we’d love to meet you. Heck, you can even get up early on a weekend and help us pick up trash. How good can it get. This club has something for everyone.