OS6 Program Lead
Dan Szentesi a San Diego native moved to San Luis Obispo for the challenging surf and to attend the California Polytechnic Institute of California-San Luis Obispo. Now residing in Los Osos with his wife Whitney, and their dog and two cats.
Dan has always loved the water, growing up spending much of his time in pools and the ocean.“Since I was little, I just wanted to be in the water all the time,” said Dan. “Being in the water is and always has been my life.”
Once a national level swimmer and water polo player, Dan shifted his focus to surfing in college.“I’ve been surfing all my life,” explained Dan. “But I really got into it in college more than anything else.”
Dan’s involvement with Operation Surf began after meeting founder Van Curaza and working for him as a surf instructor at the Van Curaza Surf School. Van later invited Dan to join the Operation Surf team of instructors in 2012.
“The basis of Operation Surf is that the water has these human qualities that we, as surfers, really understand,” said Dan. “To be able to share that and apply it for someone who needs to heal is one of the most rewarding things ever.”
According to Dan, helping the recovering veterans through surfing is so rewarding and the instructors always say they don’t know who gets more out of Operation Surf—them or the veterans.
Dan’s favorite aspect of Operation Surf is the bonding experience that comes from the program. Through the program, he has formed deep connections both with other instructors and veterans.
“We, as instructors, have a greater appreciation for what these military men and women have done for us and the sacrifices they have made because of Operation Surf,” said Dan.
Through his years of involvement as an Operation Surf Instructor, Dan has taken his leadership role on the Operation Surf team with great pride and honor. Now, as the OS6 Program Lead and the Lead Surf Instructor for Operation Surf Central Coast, Dan’s vast experience in water safety and surfing bring a wealth of knowledge to Operation Surf.
In addition to his position within Operation Surf, Dan’s leadership extends beyond as the head surf instructor for Van Curaza Surf School and head coach of boys’ swimming at Morro Bay High School.