The First Swell of the School Year

From Oct. 18 through Oct. 22, San Diego experienced its first large swell since the start of the Point Loma Nazarene University academic school year. Despite it being fall break, some students stayed near or on campus to surf the large waves.

First-year kinesiology major David O’Keefe was one student who decided to stay on campus and surf a few surrounding spots. O’Keefe surfed each day of the break, sometimes up to five or six hours on one given day.

“I was checking the forecast and the swell looked pretty promising for the waves out front,” O’Keefe said. “To say I scored would be an understatement. I think I got some of the best waves I’ve had in quite some time.”

O’Keefe and second-year business finance major Ted Mucciarone said that the biggest wave they saw during the weekend was double-overhead with a 10-foot face. The face of the wave is the front and unbroken part of the wave. 

“The biggest day, if I remember correctly, was Friday. In the morning it peaked and then it kind of got weird throughout the day and got a little smaller,” Mucciarone said. 

On days like Friday, Oct. 19, even surfers with years of experience felt like they were challenging themselves and received a rush of adrenaline from the action. O’Keefe said that these out-of-the-ordinary waves made him more conscious of his surroundings. 

“It definitely got me thinking that there’s definitely a lot of water moving around out there and a lot of power. I have to be careful, aware and use my best judgment,” O’Keefe said. “Definitely got me rattled.”

Communication studies professor John Capra mentioned that when the waves are this size, surfers must evaluate their skill level and be selective about which spots they choose to surf, whether that means picking to go out on a smaller day or paddling out at a location with smaller waves. 

“Always have a healthy fear of the ocean. The ocean is always going to be bigger, stronger, faster and meaner than you. Just have a respect for the ocean and know that at any moment things could change,” Capra said. 

Although Ocean Beach is a popular wave for local surfers in the area, O’Keefe said that the swell was “too big” for Ocean Beach and that many of the waves were either very short or had poor shape.

“There was one guy out there trying to paddle out and he just kept paddling and paddling and paddling,” Capra said. 

As Capra was watching the waves at Ocean Beach, just three miles away from the PLNU campus, he noticed the waves “blasting up over the pier.” The sight of the large waves exceeding the height of the pier was a good indicator of how large the waves truly were. 

According to a post by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department on  X, formerly known as Twitter, San Diego lifeguards closed the Ocean Beach pier at 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 due to the high surf reports; it was expected to reopen on Saturday, Oct. 19. 

This swell has been the first glimpse of large San Diego waves for both O’Keefe and Capra who both recently moved from Orange County to San Diego. After hearing about large swells and more consistent waves during the winter seasons both surfers expressed interest in surfing waves like these again. 

“It gets me so fired up for the winter season. I can’t wait for a couple more big days with all the guys out there hyping each other up and pushing each other to the next level,” O’Keefe said.