By Andrea Swayne
Alaina Heater, 10, from Melbourne Beach, Fla., has been spending her summers in San Clemente for four years. For the last three, a highlight of her time here has been competing in the San Clemente Ocean Festival Groms Rule Surf Contest, where she has made it to the finals every time.
This year, in the Girls 10U Push-in division, Alaina decided to buck the trend and catch her own waves. She came in first place in Round 1 earning her a pass straight to the final.
The mushy conditions posed an extra challenge and although a push-in coach would have made catching waves easier, Alaina said she was OK with her sixth-place finish due to having surfed solo.
“I was a little bit disappointed but I’m happy that I did it by myself,” Alaina said. “I was kind of worried about the other girls getting pushed in and kept thinking, ‘Stay focused and paddle harder.’ But I had fun and I don’t regret not getting pushed in.”
Alaina has her heart set on becoming a pro surfer someday and credits her time in San Clemente with playing a part in her love for the sport.
“I feel really at home in San Clemente and I’m grateful that my parents bring me here every summer,” Alaina said. “I love surfing in San Clemente because the waves are great and I love the scenery around here. The weather is nice and the people are too.”