Nursing student conquers waves

Because of our beautiful ocean front campus, it’s no surprise that PLNU is home to many surfers. But how many of them are actually able to win competitions that take place across the world? Not very many.

That is what makes Junior nursing major, Emmy Merrill different. She has won more than 25 competitions in her lifetime, participating in short board and stand up paddling tournaments, where competitors are judged on the number of waves they ride as well as the maneuvers they are able to complete in one wave. Despite her success, Merrill is very modest about her victories. On Oct. 5, Merrill competed at the Revolt Summer Surf Series in Pacific Beach, winning first placed in both the stand-up paddling and short board competitions. She has been in 15 competitions since the start of her freshman year at PLNU and has won ten. The Point Weekly was able to talk to Merrill about balancing nursing school and being able to compete in surfing competitions.

Point Weekly: Where are you from?

Emmy Merrill: I grew up in San Clemente and surf culture is kinda huge there so everyone surfs.

PW: So how did you start?

EM: My dad surfs so he taught me and my sisters. We’ve grown up in and around the water. For him, it was important for us to be water savvy so we could spend time with him there.

PW: How did you first get into competitions?

EM: Well I grew up doing short board competitions in middle school and did that all throughout high school. I was on the surf team for high school. I did normal sports growing up and then I started surfing a lot before middle school because I wanted to be on the middle school surf team. So my dad let me stop playing all of those sports if I was going to be committed to surfing. He wanted me to be invested in something and not lay around the house all day. So I made the middle school surf team and just continued competing into high school.

PW: How many competitions have you won?

EM: I haven’t counted or anything. I feel weird saying it. Freshman year, I went to Peru for the ISA champion standup paddling competition and I won a gold medal there.

PW: For the world? That’s really cool.

EM: Thanks. Then they had it again my sophomore year but I didn’t go to that because school is my priority so I knew I couldn’t miss that which is totally cool because I love school. School is worth it.

PW: So you’re a nursing student which has to be really hard. How do you maintain that schedule as well as surfing?

EM: Well like I said, school is my priority so I always put that first. I’m pretty good with time management so I make sure that I’m on top of studying and doing homework so that I have time to surf. I make it work.

PW: So do you want to do surfing and then be a nurse or how are you going to manage that after?

EM: After I graduate, I for sure want to be a nurse. I’ve wanted to be a nurse since high school so that’s something that I definitely feel called to do and I feel like God can definitely move through me in the nursing field. And then I also want to do surfing. I think it would be fun to try to do surfing as well but we’ll see where it takes me. At this point, I would like to try to do both. My career is nursing but I would love to pursue competitions as well.

PW: What is your favorite thing about surfing?

EM: Without sounding super hippy, it’s almost therapeutic. I have a good day after I surf. It just sets the rest of my day to be a good day.

PW: Do you have any pre-competition rituals?

EM: Pre-competition rituals include saying a prayer. Not asking God to win or anything, but just to be able to perform well, have fun, and that none of the competitors get injured. I find that I definitely surf a lot better when I’m having fun so that’s what I try to do.

PW: Anything else that you’d like to add?

EM: I want to say gracias to all my amigas for cheering my on at my last competition. I was on cloud nine and that was definitely the highlight of my year so far.


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