Del Mar BodySurfing Club welcoming first exchange student from Down Under

Tom Marr bodysurfing in Queensland, Australia.
( / Courtesy photo)

Thanks to the Del Mar BodySurfing Club, bodysurfers from around the world will have an opportunity to visit Del Mar. The club recently launched its International Student Exchange Program and will welcome its first student in June.

“I think this program is tremendously important because it promotes cultural exchange and social interaction with people around the world,” said Del Mar resident Vince Askey, chairman of the club. “I think it’s also very important for the promotion of the sport, which is a growing sport.”

Australian bodysurfer Tom Marr, 18, is the program’s first exchange student. A freshman at the University of Queensland, he is majoring in marine biology and zoology and swimming on the school’s swim team.

Club members met Marr during their March tour of Australia, where some of the 14 members on the trip competed in the BodyWomp Comp in Noosa Heads, Queensland, at the Noosa Festival of Surfing.

Marr, who is fairly new to competitive bodysurfing, won the bodysurfing contest in his first-ever attempt at competing in the sport.

“We’re sponsoring his entire stay,” Askey said.

Marr will arrive July 29 in Del Mar and will stay will a few host families from the club, including Del Mar couple Lindsey Buechler and Eric Phleger and their four children. Their family is also very involved in sports.

Buechler and Phleger are members of the Del Mar BodySurfing Club. Buechler’s mother, Del Mar resident Christy Hahn, and her aunt, Del Mar resident Merrily McLellan, are also club members and went on the trip to Australia. Her older daughter, Reily Buechler, graduated from Torrey Pines High School in June 2014 and just finished her freshman year at UCLA, where she plays on the women’s volleyball team.

Buechler’s mother met Marr and said he was “a fantastic kid and a great athlete.”

“We just thought that our family would be a great fit for him,” she said. “He’s a swimmer and we’re also a big water family.”

Marr’s trip will also include visits to other coastal cities throughout Southern California, including Huntington Beach and Manhattan Beach, as he will compete in three bodysurfing contests before he returns home on Aug. 24.

“He’s staying several different places, so he’ll get the opportunity to experience a number of different people and a number of different beaches,” Askey said.

Founded in October 2012, the Del Mar BodySurfing Club promotes bodysurfing through local get-togethers and international trips. The club has 50 competitive and recreational members and is looking to establish as a nonprofit to further expand its programs. The exchange program was inspired by the club’s recent trip to Australia.

Members of the Del Mar BodySurfing Club meet every weekend to surf Del Mar waves. The club plans to return to Australia in March 2016. Until then, members will compete Aug. 22-23 in the World Bodysurfing Championships, along with Marr, in Oceanside.

For more about the Del Mar BodySurfing Club, visit