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Ladies, get your surfboard on with surfing lessons in Ocean City

If the Dew Tour has put you in the mood to try something a little more extreme than your usual beach routine, Michelle Sommers has just the thing.

Sommers is giving women the opportunity to check off learning how to surf from their bucket list with lessons specifically tailored to them.

The Fenwick Island resident said she began offering the lessons because surfing is a male-dominated sport and that can sometimes makes women feel intimidated.

"I think women feel more comfortable with other women teaching them because we are close in age and understand similar fears," says Sommers, adding that lessons with a woman can take away the intimidation factor.

"It helps being with someone who understands," says Sommers, who is also executive director of the Eastern Surfing Association, an organization of amateur surfers.

Sommers, who didn't take up surfing until her late 20s, offers surf camps and refresher courses throughout the summer.  She says the difference in surfing for women compared with men is that women have better balance but men have a tendency for a stronger upper body. Although it takes longer for women to build strength and endurance, they are more graceful. To help train for surfing, she said women can swim, do push-ups, squats and yoga.

She teaches most lessons on Assateague Island, which she says is one of the few good locations available for beginner surfers because of ongoing beach replenishment, an engineering project to protect beaches. According to the Beach Activities Ordinance, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, surfing is not permitted between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., which increases the limitations for the sport.

Regardless of the location, Sommers says all surfers should follow the same safety rules:

1. Never surf alone, always go with someone else.

2. Be a strong swimmer and feel comfortable in the water.

3. Make sure you are aware of others around you, especially in the summertime.

4. Be aware of where your board is and have control of surfboard. If you’re a beginner use a longer, softer board because it’s easier to catch waves.

5. Relax and have fun - know what’s going on but enjoy yourself.

For more information about surf lessons, visit www.sommerssurf.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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