Nipper Program

Who Can Join Nippers?

Any child, boy or girl, may join Nippers once they have turned 5 years old. They do NOT have to be super competitors or super athletes! One of the best features of Nippers is seeing young children overcome their fear of the water. Children who are afraid of the water can develop through encouragement, education and training to be confident in the bay or at a surf beach.

Nipper Age Groups

A child may join the club as soon as he/she turns 5 years of age, but not before.

Age groups in lifesaving are determined by the member's age on the 1st October each year (midnight on the 30th September).

The age range for Junior Lifesavers is from 5 years old up to the age of 13. Age groups are designated as "under" the age plus a year; for example a 13 year old would be an "under 14"

Members who are 13 years of age and above can become Active Lifesavers by gaining their Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and assisting our qualified Senior members to patrol the beaches during the summer season.

Age Group

Age as at midnight
30th September (current year)

Under 6

5 Years

Under 7

6 Years

Under 8

7 Years

Under 9

8 Years

Under 10

9 Years

Under 11

10 Years

Under 12

11 Years

Under 13

12 Years

Under 14

13 years

 

Junior Preliminary & Competition Skills Evaluation

Many activities that will be completed by children as part of junior activities will be conducted in the water. To ensure that all children have a suitable swimming ability to allow them to participate in these activities, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA)  has developed a Junior Preliminary Skills Evaluation for each age group.

Every junior member is required to participate in this evaluation, conducted by the club, prior to any junior water activity training or competition being undertaken. It includes a swim and a float which is progressively increased by age group. Normally this would occur at the very first training session but if not this must be completed before any water activity is undertaken. The intent of this is to conduct an evaluation of each junior member's own swimming and water survival ability for the information of the member, parent and age manager. Note: It is not an assessment which if not completed competently precludes the child from becoming a member or continuing with junior surf education or training activities.  If the child is in the U8 group, or higher, they will need to be accompanied 1:1 in the water by a Water Safety qualified adult (SRC or Bronze).  This may preclude the child from water skills involvement that day if there are not enough suitably qualified adults available to assist.

If a child completes the competency skills required but is fearful in the water and shows signs of panic it may be appropriate for this child to be accompanied 1:1 in the water by a Water Safety qualifed adult while the childs confidence and comfort in the water is developed.  It should be remembered that open water swimming and confidence is very different from pool swimming and confidence.

It is important to remember that nipper programs via Life Saving clubs are not 'learn to swim' programs.

Following the Evaluation

Any child that does not meet the required evaluation level will require a higher level of supervision when involved in water based activities at the discretion of the club. It is a requirement that these children remain in shallow water and based on a 1:1 ratio until the child is deemed competent in relation to the preliminary skills evaluation guidelines. Any child that does complete the preliminary skills evaluation competently can progress to water based junior activities noting regular water safety 5:1 ratio requirements must be provided as per the junior SLSA water safety policy. As a parent, this will mean that you must actively assist the coach with your child's training activities within the water until such time that they are competent (i.e. parent must bring their bathers and get in the water if necessary).

Junior Competition Evaluation

From the age of 8 (Under 9) juniors can begin to compete in inter-club competition. To ensure that all junior members who wish to compete have the ability, strength and fitness standard to complete the course they must be able to complete the junior competition evaluation for their age group.

The junior competition evaluation is based on the swim distances as set out in the Surf Sports Manual for that age group and is a minimum standard guideline in the form of an open water swim. Individual states may have a higher standard for their competition evaluation.

Notes: Every junior member is required to participate in this evaluation, conducted by the club, prior to any junior water activity training or competition. Any child that does not meet the required evaluation level will require a higher level of supervision when involved in water based activities at the discretion of the club. The competition evaluation must be achieved before being eligible to compete in inter-club competition.

This is a minimum standard water proficiency requirement.

Nipper Versus Child Minding

Nippers is not a child minding service and parents/guardians are advised they should remain nearby should an incident occur or should events finish early. It is important for parents to remain on the beach for the children's safety and confidence. Parents should also be willing to get involved with their child's sport as helpers. The whole of the family can enjoy being involved with Lifesaving.