Just ask the 12 retired friends who started riding the waves on their boogie boards in Pacific Beach 15 years ago. When they originally took to their boards together, most were in their late 50s.
“We were ‘children,’” group members agree, adding that since then, many of them have been through an assortment of health issues and surgeries. Although not everyone comes regularly anymore, group members do keep in touch.
They’re at the shore on Tuesdays during the summer and fall, behind the Capri by the Sea condominium, starting at about 1 p.m.
With the water starting to cool off, they say it’s almost time to don their wetsuits. But despite the dropping temperatures, they didn’t waste any time on a recent Tuesday braving the 69-degree to 71-degree water and two- to three-foot waves.
There would be plenty of time afterward to sit on the beach and visit with the four or so regulars and the eight others who brought their boards for one of their reunions. And there would be plenty of time after the season ends to return to indoor exercise.
Lonna McKenna, 71, is the group’s organizer. She grew up in South Mission Beach, where she’s enjoyed boogie boarding for years. Then, when she retired along with her contemporaries, “We found out we have this common interest.”
“The first time I was ever on a boogie board, I was 74,” said Ann Lampkin, now 76. “I could no longer backpack or ski.”
The best part of boogie boarding, the friends agree, is the camaraderie.
“I finally have friends to do something with,” one of the women said.
Lampkin added, “They all die off.”
The group comes from the beach area and as far away as downtown San Diego, San Carlos, El Cajon and Rancho Penasquitos. When she left El Cajon that morning, Lampkin said, “It was 98 degrees. There’s a reason for driving this far.”
Ingrid Galchenko, 74, agreed.
“I love the exercise and being outside and I love the water,” she said.
Though Galchenko had surgery that left her with screws in both hips, she joked she’s not afraid the salt water will rust them.
Charlotte Cowan, 72, said she used to swim at La Jolla Cove. Her son, the owner of the local South Coast Surf Shop, got her interested in boogie boarding. Now, she gets her wetsuits and boogie boards from him.
Lori McKenna, 66, who moved to Point Loma three years ago from Sacramento, said, “The group took me under their wing. I didn’t know anyone here, so it was kind of nice.”
It’s not too hard to learn to boogie board, according to group members. In fact, 76-year-old Luise Marchi said she taught her then-80-year-old sister how to do it when she visited three years ago.
Unfortunately, said Sue Sprouse, 70, “I have to move to the gym in the winter.”
Marchi said boogie boarding is a great sport for older people, pointing out that it’s not dangerous.
“This water is soft,” she said.