Crystal Da Silva
Deaf Pro Surfer
Welcome Crystal da Silva! Crystal is a Deaf Pro Surfer from California, USA who was born deaf and communicates through ASL (American Sign Language).
Not only is Crystal da Silva a shortboard champion, surfing around the world and winning many national and international titles but she's also a swimwear designer under the name of Kalikalacjswimwear (www.kalikalacjswimwear.Etsy.com or https://www.instagram.com/kalikalacjswimwear/ ), designing attractive bikinis and swimsuits that stay on during surf!
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was simple as I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I basically had a ‘normal life’ as my parents let me play and ride my bike in the street like any other child despite my deafness. I attended a school with a deaf program and was mainstreamed into classes with hearing kids when I was in 4th grade (Year 5, UK). I had a normal social life with deaf, hard of hearing and hearing children. Many classmates learned sign language and became my closest friends. I’m sure it’s difficult for parents of deaf children as they have to learn sign language, search for a deaf program in school. But you all can do it!
When did you start surfing?
In 1999 as a sophomore (Year 11, UK) in high school. I wanted to make the Carlsbad High School Surf team. I made the team in my junior year (Year 6th form) and we won the NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) Championships.
What made you want to become a pro surfer?
I’ve always been a mermaid who loves salt water and swimming. Surfing keeps me fit. Salt water, sunshine and sea breeze are good for the body, mind and soul. I was tired of surfing just for trophies; I had far too many ;) I wanted to make some money so I signed up for a local pro venue and won almost every contest that season!
What is it like being a deaf surfer? What challenges do you face?
I always have to look around to see who’s behind me so I don’t drop in on another surfer. I have to focus really hard to be aware of the other surfers who try to communicate with me, but most surfers know me and know I’m deaf.
Where are your favourite surf spots and why?
I go to a secret spot in Carlsbad when I’m not in the mood to be in crowds. Lowers because waves are decent almost everyday and Oceanside Harbor because it’s a beach-break with a variety of waves.
You were involved in making ‘American Girls’ first deaf doll Joss Kendrick (which we think is awesome!!), how did that come about?
American Girl found me on the Internet and invited me to be a part of the project. I did a presentation about my life and surfing at their headquarters. It was a lot of fun being part of the project but I had to keep it quiet as they didn’t want the new doll revealed until the project was complete. I hope the Joss Kendrick doll and books will inspire deaf and hard of hearing children to join any sport they desire without letting their disability stop them.
Words of inspiration to aspiring deaf surfers and/or children about their dreams.
Silence won’t stop you in the hearing world. You have nothing to lose when you set personal goals. If you hold steadfast to your dreams you can and will achieve them!
Plus visit https://www.instagram.com/crystalkalikalacj/ to see her awesome surfing photos whilst wearing her cool designs!