Photo Credit: @greylockwoodphoto

Mia Bolton

Columbia, Maryland

Photo credits: @greylockwoodphoto

Photo credit: @greylockwoodphoto

Photo credit: @greylockwoodphoto

Photo Credits: @philalbritton

Years Surfing: 9

Fave Board: I don’t have one, but the Bing Pocketknife is a dream board. 😍

Instagram: @mmmbolt

What/who got you started surfing? I was a competitive swimmer, a swim coach, and a pool and beach lifeguard before I ever got on a surfboard. After spending so much time in the water, being in the ocean came very naturally for me. That’s not to say surfing came naturally— there still were several years of absolutely eating it before I figured out how to actually ride a surfboard. But not having to overcome a fear of the water definitely helped. It also helped when I moved from Maryland to San Diego, California. After a while, I found myself in the company of ocean-loving people like me, and my friend Nick introduced me to the idea of shaping my own surfboard. I didn’t know it then, but that’s how I would meet a lot of people who are now some of my closest friends.

I learned so much about surf culture and was lucky enough to spend time in the water with people who felt that surfing should be as inclusive and light-hearted as I did. It’s with this community that I really started to get the hang of surfing, learn more about its history and fall in love with it all.

What is your philosophy on surfing? There’s room for everyone — except for people who think there’s not enough room for everyone. Haha! The ocean belongs to us all. Around the world, it brings joy to people of all different cultures, religions, communities, and lifestyles. The way I see it, the ocean and surfing are the great connectors and things that unite us, and every person has an equal right to be a part of that.

What do you love/hate (you choose!) about surf culture as it pertains to women surfers? I would love to see more diversity in womxn’s surfing, and more queer women and women of color from all parts of the world with sponsorships, invites to contests, video and movie parts, etc.

That being said, the womxn’s surf community is transforming and growing, and I’m really excited about the direction it’s headed. The things contributing to this shift that I’m loving lately are three-fold:

1. The intersectionality! The surge in womxn surfers and brands recognizing how surfing overlaps with social justice issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, sustainability, immigration, racial equity, civic action, etc. It’s a very special time on the brink of something big.

2. The grassroots communities! We’re seeing a rise in womxn’s surfing publications such as Sea Together Magazine (@seatogether), community groups (@babesonwaves), projects (like you gals!), photographers ( and @rgoldphotos) and events, such as the Women’s Surf Film Festival (@womenssurffilmfestival). So many womxn around the world are finding and sharing their joy as it relates to surfing and it makes our community so much bigger, stronger, lovelier and inclusive.

3. The increasing diversity! I love that we’re finally starting to see more stories of womxn surfing around the world to rewrite the outdated (and frankly, boring) narrative of what a surfer girl should be. Young womxn and girls around the world are starting to see that womxn and girls who surf are so much more than just pretty in a bikini. They’re strong and diversely abled and beautiful and limitless in their potential and self expression.

Who are your surf heroes, and why? Oh, this is hard because I have so many. As a writer for Foam Symmetry Magazine, I had the incredible opportunity to get to know some of the most talented womxn surfers, including Sierra Lerback, Makala Smith, Margaux Arramon-Tucoo, Christina Brailsford, Ashley Lloyd and more. And I have to say, I’m very inspired by all of them. One humxn that inspires me both in and out of the water is Erin Ashley. Not only is her style funky, refreshing, and so awe-inspiring, but she is righteously dedicated to social justice and using her platform for good. I just think she’s a total badass and surfs for all the right reasons. I’ve also always been very moved by Cori Schumacher. She’s been a friend and inspiration for many years and her transition from 3x World Champion Longboarder to fierce advocate to City Councilperson is an absolutely remarkable journey. Now, she’s influencing change and policy from the inside out with the good of her community and her environment at the core of her humble heart. And of course, that brings me to Leah Dawson and her outspokenness for peace and sustainability as well as her unmatchable style. See? Told you. Can’t choose. 🙂

How has your surfing life in the water affected the rest of your life on land? Surfing has made me more distracted on land, to be honest! I’m always wondering what the ocean is doing and how I can be part of it, which makes it hard to get other things done! More seriously, I think the biggest gift surfing has given me is community and connection. It has brought me around the world and been a foundation on which I’ve built some of my most memorable moments and most valuable relationships. And when I find myself in the ocean alone, I always find a sense of restoration and peace that I don’t get anywhere else. And if the waves aren’t happening, I’ll just float around and make the best of it. It doesn’t take much for me to be happy in the ocean. Besides, there’s so much freedom in taking what you’re given and simply doing what you can with it. Not trying to change it — just letting it be, and letting yourself be. On the days I can manage that, it’s pretty magical.