Surfin’ in the Rain

How varsity surf beats bacteria-filled water and rainy weather with alternate exercise.

To surf or not to surf. That is the question, depending on the weather.

Keani Van Brunt, a freshman on the surf team, recalls going out to Manhattan Beach to surf last week, despite the rainy weather conditions. A few days later, she got sick. 

“I think it’s just because there was so much water going into my body through my nose and mouth which probably shouldn’t have been there,” Van Brunt said.

According to a study conducted by the Surfrider Foundation, surfing during or after rainy weather increases exposure to bacteria responsible for gastrointestinal illnesses by 3%. Additionally, rain can make surfers 1.9% more susceptible to rashes and ear infections.

“Rain brings a lot of dirt and trash up from the drains into the ocean. My friends all went out to surf when it was raining once, and they all got sick afterward. They all had sinus infections and a bad sore throat. It was  a really bad time,” Van Brunt said. 

Although the odds of getting a bacterial infection from surfing in the rain are higher, it often varies from person to person depending on how many bacterial antibodies a person accumulates in their body over time. Surfers tend to have more bacterial antibodies than average, according to the Surfrider Foundation. Freshman Dylan Morrisroe, who is also on the surf team, reports a different experience than Van Brunt.

“I’ve never gotten sick surfing in the rain,” Morrisroe said. “When it rains, I usually surf in spots that aren’t near sewage drains and try my best not to swallow any water.” 

Public county officials caution that surfers wait 72 hours after it rains before they head out to the water. Because of this, the surf team provides an alternative exercise during rainy practices.

“Usually if it’s raining at the time of practice, we just walk from Hermosa Pier to the end of The Strand. Technically we’re done with our practice after that, and it allows us to keep moving without losing time. We ended up doing that recently,” Van Brunt said.

Depending on the size of the waves, both Morrisroe and Van Brunt agree that they may “take the chance” to go out and surf regardless of the weather conditions. Generally, Van Brunt would advise against it.

“If the waves aren’t the greatest, I don’t think it’s worth going because there’s gonna be days where the waves are better later on. It’s just not worth taking the risk,” Van Brunt said.