Weight: 135 lbs.
From: Venice, California
Sponsors: Quiksilver, Spyder surfboards, Z.J. Boardinghouse, Utopia, Merlins Energy Source
The other day I called Justin Swartz to see what was going on.
TransWorld SURF: Justin where are you?
Justin: I'm in Venice.
What are you doing?
I'm driving around in my Volvo that doesn't reverse.
A typical response from an atypical kid. Venice is a heavy town to grow up and survive in. As a young surfer, you gotta adapt to any situation whether it's with the local hoodlums or with Volvos. The town sits on the western edge of Los Angeles and is known as an eclectic place–and it's given birth to this eclectic mini human. “It's kind of crazy 'cause you can see the richest person to the gangsters to the bums,” says Justin, who was born and raised there. He's also one of the very few guys from there to ever actually try and make a name for himself in the surf world.
Luckily he has a mentor named Rick Massie–a former pro surfer and a hardcore Venice local. Massie took him under his wing and taught him how to both surf and survive on land, “He's helped me with being able to make it in Venice street-wise, and surf-wise as well,” says Justin. Another Venice local, Strider Wasilewski, got him in the industry and sponsors him at Quiksilver, not only because he rips, but because he's one of the funniest f–kers on the planet. “This is the only kid I know who talks more than I do,” says Strider. “He's a great guy and is maturing into a good young man. He's working now, giving him some drive in life and in his surfing. Being from Venice he's one of the only guys from the area who's worth watching in the water.”–Checkwood