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The Surfing Life : Amy Lowry

How perfect would life be if your job was to surf every day and hang at the beach? Amy Lowry and her fiancé Tim Reda have it all figured out. The couple runs a year-round surf school called Endless Sun in Newport Beach, and when they're not teaching kids how to surf, they keep busy kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or hiking through Laguna Beach as professional nature guides.

An occasional surf model as well, you may recognize Amy from our Spring 2013 video lookbook, shot by Tiffany Campbell. Part of the original Seeababes crew, Amy's relaxed and friendly demeanor won us over from the start.

Confident and content in the water, surfing is nothing new for Amy, as she was 11-years-old when she first learned to surf at the same school in Newport Beach that she now co-owns. We all have to have our start somewhere, so we sat down with Amy to talk more about the rewards of teaching, the challenges of running a surf school, and what it's really like to live the surfing life.
Multi-talented surfer, teacher and surf coach, Amy Lowry.
Amy rolls right on a fun, uncrowded day at Trestles.

How did you start teaching surfing? 

I started teaching surfing when I was 16-years-old at the same surf school that I’m at now, Endless Sun Surf School in Newport Beach, which is also where I learned. My co-owner, who is also my business partner, taught me how to surf when I was 11 at the surf school at Blackies. He’s been doing it since 1963. Then I moved on and was on the high school surf team and he was the coach. I kind of have his job now. I just kept teaching surfing because I love being able to give something that means so much to me, to other people. That’s when I started working with kids too.

Did you grow up surfing with a lot of girls? 

Not at all. I could be out there and look down the beach and not see another girl for miles. In high school there was only a couple more girls—like three or four. Now the team has like 10. All my friends were always guys to have someone to surf with. It’s changed a bit. You can go to Newport and see more girls surfing today.

If I compare NorCal [where I went to college at UCSC] to SoCal, there is a huge difference. In Santa Cruz there are so many girls that grow up surfing there. That was really cool to me. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy. You see a lot less girls surfing in Southern California. Girls are taught to value different things here. That’s something to look at and ask 'What can I do about this?’ and hopefully be good role models.

You coach the girl’s high school surf team, what’s that like? 

To me, that feels like I’m giving back, because that meant so much to me to be on the high school surf team. I think I would have had a completely different life. It’s like a family and an outlet in every way that surfing can be an outlet. It’s a great team to be apart of and get you through high school.

Amy and Tim with the high school surf team that they coach, on a recent trip to Nicaragua where they brought over water filters for the local people. 

Tell us more about Endless Sun Surf School. 

We have summer camps, private lessons and an after-school program with several elementary schools, kindergarden to 6th grade. Four days a week, we pick up kids after school, walk them down to the Newport Pier and take them surfing. It’s really fun for us. Blackies beach is so shallow and gentle, and they can be knee deep or waist deep and it's really safe in that sense. It feels good to be teaching kids something that builds their confidence, and will be a healthy outlet for them for the rest of their lives.

Something neat that’s happening is that we've had a ton of kids with autism coming to us. Parents are figuring out that surfing is really good for them. Throughout the summer we do a lot of private lessons with them.

Amy with her all-girls surf class in Newport Beach.

How have you seen surfing be a positive force for autistic children? 

In general, they have different ways of communicating and socializing. I think because, there’s the element that they are in the water. You are so much more focused compared to like, soccer. You could get distracted while you’re on the field playing soccer and that’s going to be okay. If you get distracted while you’re in the ocean, things could happen. It’s kind of that extreme focus. It could be meditative. They feel like, so free out there. We get a lot of reports from their parents that they came out so happy and so much more calm and able to communicate a little bit better.

Tim Reda on the far left and Amy at the far left with their surf school students in between.

How do you see the girls-only classes different from the guys-only classes or co-ed classes? 

It’s like night and day. We have an all-boys class—it’s the advanced class. They are pretty competitive. They ask us to do a surf contest at the end. The girls are like, singing songs on the way down, laughing and are all about having fun. You notice some of them don’t know each other [because they are from different schools]. At the end of the year they are super good friends. The girls always want a party wave, to share waves, do silly things like ride backwards. Most of the boys aren’t doing that at all. They are pretty serious.

Something that goes hand-in-hand with surfing is environmental awareness and you and Tim also lead eco-tours in Laguna Beach. What are those tours like? 

We are eco-tour guides for La Vida Laguna in Laguna Beach. A large part of our clients are coming from the corporate business world and their eyes get opened. Laguna Beach is a special spot that needs protection. I feel like we’re doing a small part by showing people how beautiful it is. We take people kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking. At the same time, we’re educating them about the environment around them. For example, while kayaking, we talk about the kelp forest and how it’s vital to their life too.

Amy explores underwater in Hawaii.
Soon to be wed, Amy and Tim.

What's it like for you and Tim to work together as a couple?

It's fun! I get to spend so much time with the one I love. It works for us. We balance each other out a lot. Tim has tons of creativity, and is always coming up with new ideas. He's the artistic one. Whereas, I’m the organizer of all of the chaos, and I’m the one who takes Tim's ideas and gets them done. And we both work really great with kids. I think working together has really helped us to grow a lot closer to one another and has helped us to get to know one another a lot faster and on a deeper level.

What does surfing mean to your relationship with Tim?

We met because of surfing and because of a surf contest. Maybe we would have met if we didn’t surf, but it sure helped us to meet one another and connect. Whenever we're having a bad day, we could go surfing together and our whole outlook will turn around. We're pretty tied together through surfing. Tim makes all the surfboards that I ride, he's a great surf photographer, and he likes watching me surf. Well, we both love watching each other surf! We travel around on surf trips together and we do a lot of surf contests together. Surfing is something that we both are passionate about, and that’s one thing that’s easy about our relationship.

Dropping in.

Toes on the nose in Nicaragua.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced being a surf school instructor? 

I find it odd that there is a stigma and negativity towards surf schools. Not necessarily ours, but there are a lot of people in our surf community that don’t like surf schools. That’s weird to me because surfing is something we all love—it’s our life. Its also like, wouldn’t you want to share your passion, what makes you happy with other people? It’s a great way to give to people. I get it though, you could do it in a way that’s unsafe and overcrowds the beach. But you could also do it in the totally right way and be respectful and teach respect for others and the environment.

How do you like surfing in Seea? 

I never really liked wearing bathing suits while surfing because they would always fall off. I don't want to worry about that while surfing. Seea suits are entirely different. They stay on while you're surfing, and are still super cute. And they give you the feeling of real surfer girls having fun at the beach. They're authentic, fun and comfortable.

Amy in the original San O suit.
Amy at Malibu.
Thanks Amy! You are an an inspiration for all of us who aspire to involve the ocean in our everyday lives, and to be true to ourselves and the things we love. It brings us great pleasure to know that each year a new wave of young women will learn lessons from such a talented and unpretentious role model, both in and out of the water. (Rhea) August 07, 2013 1 tags (show)

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