BY ALISON BURMEISTER
“Hello, this is Rob LeMond, please do not leave text messages on this number but I would like to have your voice message, so please leave it after the beep. Thank you.” *BEEP*
If you recognize this message, then you have likely registered your child for one of Rob LeMond’s swim lessons or surf camps.
LeMond was the 2021 recipient of Malibu’s prestigious “Jake Kuredjian Citizenship Award.” He is a classic American pianist and real estate broker, but thousands of Westside families best know him as their swim and surf instructor.
He has single-handedly operated his business for the past five decades, from a landline. LeMond insists on talking to every parent who enrolls their kid in one of his courses. He takes swimming and water safety as seriously as he does his phone calls.
“Some people are turned off by my ‘old-school’ process,” LeMond said, but he sees it as a chance to learn a lot about a parent when they call. “If you don’t have time to talk about the most important person in your life, then maybe we aren’t the right fit for you.
“Considering where we live, so close to the ocean, and with so many pools, water safety is essential,” he said.
Rob is the “real deal” said Jefferson Wagner, owner of Zuma Jay’s surf shop and former mayor of Malibu. “If you want your kid to learn how to swim and navigate the ocean, you want them to learn from Rob.”
When LeMond was a young boy, in Santa Monica, his dad, Bob LeMond, a well-known radio and television announcer for Hollywood television shows like Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, enrolled him in a Brentwood swim school on San Vicente. Rob was a natural and found he was able to hold his breath for extended periods of time.
He continued to swim in High School for Santa Monica High and in college for USC. Eventually he took a job teaching swim lessons at Santa Monica High School, because “he was not old enough to be a beach lifeguard.”
When he was finally old enough, he passed the lifeguard test and was offered a job but didn’t take it because “They wanted me to start in June, but I wanted to keep teaching swimming” LeMond said. “I told them I had obligations to my students and families.”
A consummate teacher, LeMond has a gift for helping kids learn to swim. He has a gentle approach that puts kids at ease. Though his classes are in a group setting, he teaches to the individual.
One of LeMond’s biggest joys in teaching kids is seeing them get over their fears and seeing what they can accomplish.
His favorite beaches in Malibu are Zuma, Broad and Escondido. He said Escondido might be his favorite because he has so many memories there. LeMond began his first Surf and Ocean Safety camp in 1968 at Escondido beach, where he still operates today.
In a day and age where technology and over-produced events seem to be the norm, it is nice to know there is still a place where kids can enjoy the simple pleasures of southern California living in the sun, sand and ocean waves.
“I love the kids, I love seeing everything that happens with them,” LeMond said. “Every year, they become really good swimmers and ocean people.”
If you are interested in signing your child with someone who may be one of the nicest, and most experienced teachers in California, you are in luck. There are still a few openings in the June 26 camp. Kids ages 6-12 will boogie board, surf and learn to read the waves of the ocean. To register, call (310) 456-7731. You know the drill.