How Zane Schweitzer, World Champion Waterman with 15 World Titles, is giving back to the kids in Maui and beyond
“The most important lesson for a waterman or waterwoman is to be able to understand that you cannot just rush into something. You have to know your place in this ocean and hopefully like the ocean, be able to adapt,” ocean enthusiast and World Champion Waterman, Zane Kekoa Schweitzer said. He is the author of Beneath The Surface, founder of non-profit organization Kahākūkahi (formerly known as InZane Super Groms), and an avid environmentalist. The journey to his successes did not happen overnight. His passion and initiative to give back to the community are the driving force behind his accolades.
Zane Schweitzer celebrating in victory. (Photo courtesy of Matty Schweitzer)
“I remember when I went on travels and contests, my mom would pack extra clothes that did not fit [my siblings and I] anymore so that we could give it away to share with other kids,” he said. This all began when Zane travelled to Peru. He told his mom how sad it was to see kids wearing old clothes and with no sporting equipment. "I suggested he leave a few old surfboards along with the clothes I had sent him with. Every surf trip after that, we made the commitment to always bring clothes and to leave surfboards for the local kids," ultimate surf mom of three, Shawneen Schweitzer said. “Zane and I began collecting gear, equipment, coloring books, and surfboards from back home and for every surf trip, we gave it to the kids. We would even spread the word to other athletes to ask for their donation of equipment and gear they were no longer using. We were collecting things to leave behind– to go home from our travels and competitions leaving behind what we had collected for kids who don’t have the same opportunities.”
The core morals and values that Shawneen instilled in her three children growing up were: family first, commit to sports [builds discipline, resilience, healthy lifestyle], and to leave the world better than they arrived in it. “Give more than you take,” she said. Zane was raised around the ocean and has developed his own connection with the Hawaiian islands. He not only knows the ocean to be a humbling teacher, but something that his entire family has always involved themselves in. “Being influenced by friends, athletes, and my family, who have surrounded me my whole life, plays a huge role in my comfort in the ocean,” Zane said. “There’s no doubt we take pride that this is what our family has done over 5 generations, whether it’s creating a passion or pleasure in the ocean.”
Matty Schweitzer hugging Zane in Fiji after Zane won and became World Champion. (Photo courtesy of Matty Schweitzer)
His father, Matt Schweitzer is an 18x world champion windsurfer; mother, Shawneen, a national title holder for windsurfing; older brother Matty, the first ever 3rd generation windsurfer; younger sister Shelby, a three time national surfer; and grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, the inventor of windsurfing. Aside from all of their record holding titles, is an entire family who strives to be of service. Maui Sports Adventures is their local family business that immerse guests in the ocean lifestyle and spirit of Aloha through private water sport retreats. In addition, Shelby leads surf clinics for young girls and runs Shredders Skate Camp with her fiancé Chris Von Blohn; Shawneen is the co-founder of Stand Up for the Cure, a non-profit that supports breast and skin cancer survivors; Both Matty and Zane work together in leading Kahākūkahi.
“My brother has been a huge part of Kahākūkahi’s success and my success as an athlete,” Zane said. Through their non-profit, they’ve proudly raised and introduced three junior world champions. Two of them being Ryan Funk, junior world title winner for stand up paddle and Ty Simpson-Kane, recently getting a wild card entry to World Surf League (WSL) big wave world tour. The Schweitzer brothers continue their work by supporting local kids through education and mentorship. They’ve hosted beach cleanups, junior waterman races, and together have taught over 5,000 kids through Kahākūkahi. “It’s a whole family dynamic,” Matty said. “We support each other and each other’s work in any way we can.”
Matty Schweitzer speaking to kids at a SUPer Grom event. (Photo Courtesy of Matty Schweitzer)
"What I love about KaiAloha Supply is the meaning behind the name. Love the Ocean ties so well with what we teach the kids and what it really means to respect the land and mālama for our kai," Zane said.
They provide both the fun and education at Kahākūkahi by connecting the relationship between both mountains to sea and farmers to surfers. “We teach kids that they need to take time and respect the power of the environment. We want to be able to give these kids an awesome experience to be great stewards and find their place in this community. I want to give these kids an opportunity to learn from the best, learn on safe equipment and if they want to continue pursuing a sport, I want to connect them with mentorship, scholarships and equipment. I want to give back to local kids from Maui similar opportunities that I had,” Zane said.
Today, Matty and Zane still collect old equipment and gear donations for the kids at Kahākūkahi. Over time, they clean the boards, repaint them, and include them in giveaways and scholarships.