Surfing Soapbox: Swim skills from youth pay off

Some of our greatest moments in life are the ones that we don't think about, we just react.

That's what happened Sunday when I saw a younger woman get washed off the rocks inside of the Arch next to the blowhole at Pearl Street Beach. I had seen it happen before but never like this. It was never a question of whether to go or not.

I grew up on that beach with a long list of great watermen and lifeguards, who I always wanted to emulate. I have a lot of admiration for those who put their lives on the line every day; they are the real heroes and those who taught me the ways of the beach.

The generation before me taught me the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the reefs and blowholes.

We were brought up on Laguna's beaches surfing, skimboarding and spear fishing. It's a real pity that last skill won't be passed down when the new fishing ban goes into effect.

When I was 6 I had to be able to swim in from the reef in front of my parents house before I was allowed to surf by myself, and my brother was happy to make that happen on my father's order.

That's how it was back then. We were taught how to care for our beaches and for others. Those guys have meant the world to me and still do. True watermen. I'm just trying my best to continue that tradition and pay it forward.

JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha

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