When Crystal Dzigas comes to Waikiki to surf, she turns heads. Her shoulder length, sun-kissed brown hair streaked with gold falls softly around her shoulders, framing a hapa-haole face that so perfectly fits the image of beautiful island girl. People notice her.
Dzigas is a model who has appeared on billboards in France and covers of international magazines. She’s a professional surfer who has been competing right out of high school. She’s a budding film and television actress, whose credits include a cameo in the 2011 movie Soul Surfer, and a gig as a body double for Tia Carrere in You May Not Kiss The Bride.
On this day, though, she is turning heads for quite a different reason: She is seven months pregnant. Her doctor told her to stop surfing when she was two months pregnant, but “since I started surfing in 1997, I haven’t stopped for more than a week. So I can’t imagine not surfing through my pregnancy,” she says.
As you might guess, it is not a common sight. Neal Nakamoto is a long time manager of the surf rental stand Hawaiian Island Beachboys. He’s seen it all in Waikiki. “It’s very, very unusual for someone that far along in pregnancy to be out,” he verifies.
A woman who is nine months pregnant happens to be nearby. “I surf too, but there’s no way I’d be out surfing this big,” says Noelle Lau, as she looks down at her belly.
How does she do it? Dgizas paddles on her knees now, slightly leaning on her unborn son. “I think it puts him to sleep. I don’t feel him as much when I’m out surfing.”
Before pregnancy, her home break was Ala Moana Bowls, on Oahu’s South Shore. Now, however, she needs the gentler waves of Waikiki. In the lineup at Queen’s break, people stop and stare. “Every time people see me and my big belly, they stop paddling if I paddle for a wave. It’s great,” she laughs.
Those same rolling waves that make Waikiki perfect for the pregnant Dzigas are also why it’s such a popular place for beginners. Isn’t she afraid of someone else losing control and hitting her?
She concedes, “I’m definitely worried about safety out there. There are a lot of things that can happen. I try to use caution when catching a wave. I know what I can do, but it’s other people that pose a threat. If I see dangerous people I steer clear.”
Her family and doctor worry about her surfing while pregnant, but if anyone can understand, it’s fiancée Anthony Walsh, who is a big name Australian professional surfer. While he is concerned for her safety, he also knows the lure of the ocean. “For me it’s cool to see she’s still surfing. It does really relax her, even if she’s sore because she’s bigger now.”
Dzigas only has the energy to catch a couple waves before it’s time to head back in. Still, she insists, “An hour in the water is worth being tired and sore for the rest of the day.”
You might find her in the water till the very last day. “I always joke I’ll give birth in the water surfing,” predicts Dzigas.
“If she can’t surf, I think she’ll still be in the water swimming,” adds Walsh.
After Dzigas gives birth in September 2010, she and Walsh plan to stay on Oahu for a few years, then move to his hometown in Australia. They hope the ocean will play a big part in their son’s life.
The kid has got a pretty good head start. Dzigas was pregnant in March 2010 when she took first place in the Noosa Festival of Surfing, which is a major Australian meet.
Walsh points out, “He’s already won a contest. He’s only seven months old and he’s already surfing.”
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