Photography by Dominic Marley
Tassy Swallow is one of Britain’s most talented young surfers. A proud Cornish flagbearer, she carried the Olympic torch in the build up to London 2012, and was recently named a Cornish bard. True fact! We chatted about that, the progress of her ASP World Surf Tour dreams and what impact she thinks the Wavegarden in Bristol will have on British surfing
Hey Tassy, how’s it going, how was your summer? How’s surfing?
Hey Cooler Mag! I had an epic winter full of surfing sick waves and enjoying amazing experiences in West Africa. This summer I’ve been back home in the UK, which was a slight culture shock to the system but it was great to see everyone again after four months abroad. With the current lack of money within the surf industry, this summer has been very different to my previous summers. My initial plan was to compete again on the European Pro Junior Tour starting in France and making my way through Spain and possibly a couple of events in the Canary Islands. But a few cuts from sponsors has made that ambition almost impossible this year.
With every closed door another has opened though, and I’ve spent the last weeks working for a local surf and skate shop in St.Ives called Keebunga. The waves have been terrible this year in Cornwall too, small swells and lots of wind has made it hard for me to get my usual daily surfs in however I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a business partnership at Keebunga with setting up a SUP School here on the harbour in St.Ives. By running stand up paddle lessons along with my surf lessons and working in the shop, I am saving up fast for my next big masterplan this coming winter!
You carried the Olympic torch in 2012, looking back how was the experience?
It was an amazing experience that makes me grin when I just think about it. It was one hell of a moment in my life that I will never forget, and I’ll feel proud to tell my kids about it and show them the Olympic Torch I am lucky enough to be able to show for it. So many cool things have come from it too, some adverts for Coca Cola and a lot of school visits with the Olympic Torch.
Are you still doing lots of voluntary work?
Following my experience carrying the Olympic Torch, the awareness around what I’ve been trying to do, getting more girls into sport and in particular surfing has really been raised. It’s been great having so many children interested in what I’m doing and wanting to be a part of it. I’m so lucky to live in such a supportive community, and that has really helped me grow my girls surf club too. I’m still running ‘Tassy’s Surf Ratz’, and at the moment have about ten Under 10 year old girls and around six 12-15 year old girls coming regularly to my sessions.
This year I have been granted a lease on the most amazing building right on the hilltop of the island in St.Ives. It’s genuinely one of the most iconic buildings St.Ives and I’m really excited to be able to develop my plans within this building for a community Surf/Ocean education centre, and also the home to Tassy’s Surf Ratz!
Google tells us you’re a Cornish bard, what does that mean and is it cool!?
The Cornish Gorseth is a yearly celebration of Cornish Heritage and Culture, and its main aim is to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall. An important part of the Cornish Gorseth is the awarding of bardships to individuals for meritorious work for Cornish culture. Last year I was nominated by the local community and the other Cornish Bards to become a Cornish Bard for representing Cornwall internationally. It was a real honour to have been asked. And although the ceremony at the moment is very old fashioned and I think because of this, less appealing to the younger generation, I would love to help make it something that everybody of all ages can enjoy and get involved with. It’s important to know the history behind where you’re from and be proud of it!
When we spoke last, we talked about you being on the ASP Tour one day, do you feel that dream is closer or further away right now?
A lot of things have changed in the last year or so, not only for me but in the industry alone. With there being so much less money for sponsors to offer athletes it’s become a bit of a reality check for me in the last months. My head is still very much in my long term goals and ambitions. However, now I have to use other paths to get me there, rather than to be able to rely on any kind of financial support from my sponsors. My main goal is still to be progressing the standard and pushing the boundaries of women’s surfing from the UK. I’ve been working on a more progressive side to my surfing, and hoping to get a coach again this winter who can work with me on this especially. By the end of this winter I’m aiming to have an exciting video clip to show for the hard work I’m going to put in training these months in some cool destinations.