Interview with Canadian surfer Bethany Zelasko
A few weeks ago, I had a fantastic conversation with Canadian surfer Cody Young, so I thought I would reach out to other athletes. Today on What On What’s Good with Host Jovin Tardif, I am here with Team Canada surfer Bethany Zelasko. With surfing making its debut at the Olympics, I thought I would reach out and say hello. Zelasko has dual citizenship and represents Canada at international events. In this interview, we discuss her introduction to surfing, surfer mentors, competitions, tips for new surfers, and a few of her extra-curricular activities.
1. Describe your passion for surfing.
I’ve always been in love with the ocean and surfing. I learn to swim before I could walk! I started begging my parents to get me a surfboard when I was about 8 and when we moved to Dana Point my parents got me a red soft top. Since I learned to surf I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Every day I train to improve my surfing no matter what the conditions.
2. Can you tell us about the 1st time you were on a surfboard? How did you get hooked? (Did you read surf magazines growing up, etc..)
I remember the first surf lesson. My family spent the whole day at the beach and I was ready to go out on my own in the second session. I was so excited to be out there and couldn’t have been happier. Shortly after that I started middle school and joined the surf club. My parents don’t surf so family friends would go surfing with me. I also subscribed to a surf magazine when I was in middle school and I would read those cover to cover. I didn’t understand a lot of the articles but as I learned and progressed I started to understand more. I saved all the magazines for a long time. I’m not sure if I still have all of them but I know I’ve saved a few.
3. Do you have any surfer mentors?
My coach in California is a great mentor. I’ve been working with him since I was 12 years old. We have a very good connection and he’s helped improve my surfing a lot.
4. You won your first two national titles in Canada. Describe some of the highlights and how you felt afterward.
I remember getting a wave in the last minutes of my U18 final to get the win. I was so excited that I ran up the beach to my mom and hugged her immediately. My friends thought it was pretty funny that I did that and didn’t wait. When I won the Open Women’s division later that day I was still very excited but I was able to calm myself down enough to let my friends chair me up.
5. How do you prepare for competition?
I get very focused and motivated to surf a lot before a contest. Usually, I focus on my weakest point and work to improve that before the contest so that when I’m in competition I have that down and don’t have to think about doing it.
6. Any tips for new surfers to feel confident on the surfboard?
Surf as much as you can. Surfing takes a lot of practice to get good at. Also, don’t worry about who’s watching and don’t get frustrated when you make mistakes. It’s hard to get better when you are angry at yourself.
7. You enjoy reading. What is your favourite book as-of-late and why?
I’ve been reading “The Good Mother”. It’s about a woman whose going through a divorce and has full custody of her daughter. She talks about her childhood and what her new day to day life is about. I really like stories about people’s lives, especially autobiographies. So many people have a different life than me so getting to read about it gives me a taste of what it might be like in someone else’s shoes.
8. You are also into arts and crafts. Can you tell us more about that?
I make jewelry and sew a bit. I started taking jewelry classes at the local community college. I really enjoy making something and being able to wear it. I’m very proud of being able to say I made something people like. I also started selling my jewelry. I’ve learned to made new things this way. It also encourages me to go outside of my comfort zone to make something that isn’t my taste. My mom is a knitter so she showed me shawl pins that knitters buy to hold shawls or sweaters together. She also is teaching me how to use a knitting machine and I plan on making some clothes on that.
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