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Children aged five through to 14 are hitting the beach again to take part in vital surf safety lessons as the flagship Surf Life Saving program, Nippers, kicks off across the state.

The month of October sees almost all 11 Surf Life Saving NSW branches begin their Nippers programs, with clubs across the Illawarra and Lower North Coast among those to kick start ahead of the weekend of 14-15 October – the time of writing.

They follow hot on the heels of those on the Central Coast and many across the Hunter, to name a few, that began their programs in early October.

Nippers is an activities-based program that introduces children to Surf Life Saving and almost 30,000 kids participate across the state each year. It’s structured to support learning and exchanging of knowledge, gaining confidence, and developing valuable life skills through fun, structured activities in a safe beach environment.

The program also provides kids with an opportunity to participate in surf sports competition.

“Nippers is a major part of our Junior Development Program which is designed to ensure children have fun at the beach, while participating in lessons that will provide them with a pathway to become a qualified surf lifesaver or a junior competitor,” SLSNSW Membership Manager, Claire Bevis said.

“Competition plays an important role in helping to strengthen and develop the skills of surf lifesavers.

“Surf Life Saving clubs create and tailor a program to suit the needs of their members and their beach conditions.

New for the 2023/24 season is the Come and Try Nippers concept, where children are encouraged to join their local club for the day and are exposed to lifesaving demonstrations, beach, and water activities to get a feel for the program ahead of signing up.

“The program is focused on participation and enjoyment and will not just be built around competition,” Claire added.

“The goal is to increase the confidence and skill base of the nippers in the water and the sand.”

Nippers would not be possible without the countless hours put in by parents and volunteers as Age and Assistant Managers, as well as those who assist with water safety, within the program.

Ahead of a bumper season, SLSNSW is training up a huge number of new Age Managers, with an anticipated 2,281 across NSW holding their qualifications.

Friday 13 October 2023