Nippers at Somerton SLSC

The Nipper Program provides a fun way for children to enjoy the beach in a safe environment. Children participate in the Surf Life Saving Australia Junior Development Program, a sequential program that develops surf skills and surf understanding.

At Somerton Surf Life Saving Club our focus is on family, fun, learning and enhancing skills all while developing community mindedness. We aim to ensure that Somerton beach is a safe place to be; to prevent the loss of life and to develop and educate our youth.

The vision for our Nipper Program is to provide a safe, friendly and welcoming environment where both Nippers and parents can learn about surf life saving and to prepare our Nippers to become patrolling members of our Club.

The aims of the Nipper Program are to:

  • Develop surf awareness;
  • Increase confidence and skills in beach related activities;
  • Offer training to those wanting to pursue competition or awards;
  • Instill and re-enforce sun smart philosophies;
  • Encourage enjoyable and healthy participation;
  • Progress members towards surf awards for relevant age groups;
  • Promote a positive non-threatening environment; and
  • Meet new friends.


All new members will need to complete a registration form and pay their membership fees before taking part in the Nipper program. Registration can be completed at the club on the designated registration day or when required. Alternatively, registration can be completed online. It is a requirement that all Nipper participants sign up with one parent or carer. Please refer to the membership section of the Club’s website for categories and fees.

For children who are new to Nippers we suggest first joining our Come N Try Sessions. A waiver form will need to be completed for children who take part in these sessions which will be available at the Club.

To join the Nipper program your child needs to be 5 years of age at any time during the season. The Nipper program accommodates age groups from under 6 to under 13. A youth program runs for under 14 and above.

Age groups are determined by age on the 30th September each year. Each age group wears a coloured cap which they keep each year until they finish the Nipper program after under 13. Age group birth dates and cap colours can be found here: Somerton SLSC age groups and cap colours season 2023-24

Swimming Skills Assessment

Being able to swim competently is an integral part of making children safe at the beach as well as allowing them to actively participate and enjoy surf life saving activities. THE NIPPERS PROGRAM IS NOT A “LEARN TO SWIM” PROGRAM.  Parents are strongly encourage to enroll their children in “learn to swim” classes.

Surf Life Saving Australia has developed a Junior Skills Evaluation for each age group which assesses a child’s swimming competency before participating in Nipper activities at the Club and before Carnivals (competitions).

The Preliminary Skills Evaluation consists of a swim and a float which is progressively (distance/time) increased by age group and must be achieved before the Nipper may undertake any deep water related activities (such as boards and swim) at the Club.  If the Nipper successfully completes the Preliminary Skills Evaluation a second assessment known as the Competition Evaluation is conducted. This assesses the Nipper for participation in water related events at Carnivals for under 8 and above. The Competition Evaluation involves an open water swim of varying distances. If a child misses an assessment they will be assessed at a subsequent training in the sea (refer to Parent Handbook for further details of these assessments including distances).

We recognise that swimming in the sea is a new experience for many children and that even competent pool swimmers can find this challenging at first.  Our aim is to encourage children and to help develop their confidence and swimming skills in the sea as well as provide surf education.

Saturday Nipper Program

Our Nipper program runs on a Saturday and commences mid-October through to March with a short break over the Christmas period.

  • Under 8 to under 13: 2:00pm to 4:00pm (arrive by 1:45pm)
  • Under 6 & under 7: 2:30pm to 3:30pm (arrive by 2:15pm)

All parents/carers and Nippers should be on the beach 15 minutes before the session start to sign their child in with their age group manager (AGM) and attend a short parent briefing.

It is a requirement of Surf Lifesaving Australia that at least one parent is always on the beach with their child/children. Nippers is not a “drop and go” session. Children must be signed in and out of each session by a parent/carer.

Parents of children with pre-existing medical and/or behavioural concerns must inform their child’s AGM to ensure that their AGM is fully aware of the issues and how to manage them. Parents must stay with their child’s group in case any emergencies arise. Please remember to bring asthma inhalers, Epi-pens, etc to the beach if required.

As there is no water supervision provided before 2.00pm, children who go into the water prior to 2.00pm are under the supervision of their parent/carer.

The following table provides a timeline for the Saturday Nipper program.

1.15pm Beach Set Up Parents of a different age group are rostered each week
1.40pm AGM Briefing AGMs to meet with Junior Coordinator for pre-training briefing
1.45pm Short information session for under 8-13 Nippers and parents. On the beach
2.00pm Warm Up
2.00pm Under 8-13 move to first activity
2:15pm Under 6 & 7 arrive and sign-in Parent briefing by AGM
2:30pm Under 6 & 7 move to first activity
3.30pm Under 6 & 7 conclude and sign out
4.00pm Under 8-13 activities conclude and sign out.
Beach pack up, all equipment cleaned and packed up.
All parents to assist with pack up

Stay for our BBQ and a drink

4.15pm Club Swim (approximately 400 metres) – Seniors and competent juniors. Assemble at the bottom of the ramp at the beach.

Come ‘n Try Sessions

Come ‘n Try sessions are designed to introduce children to a range of Nipper activities. Children can participate in two sessions at no cost from October 28th to December 16th 2023.  Note no session on: 18 November 2023.  More details can be found on this flyer: Come n Try Nippers. 

Children who are eligible for under 6-8 will join their age group for both sessions and take part in beach and shallow water activities. Older children (under 9-13) will first join a general Come ‘n Try group to assess their confidence in the water and be introduced to key skills in a slower paced environment. The second session will be completed with their age-group. If only a small number of children attend for Come n’ Try on a given Saturday, the first session may be with their age group. Children will be provided with a high visibility vest or cap which must be returned at the end of the session.

At least one parent/carer must be always on the beach with their child/children. This is not a “drop and go” session. Parents must complete a Waiver prior to their child participating in these sessions.

What to Wear

  • Bathers
  • Age Group Cap

All nippers must wear a coloured cap that identifies them with their age group. These assist AGMs and water safety personnel to monitor nippers on the beach and in the water.

  • Fluorescent Yellow/Pink Visibility Vest *Mandatory for Under 8-13/Optional for Under 6 & 7s

All children who enter the water from under 8 upwards are required to wear a fluorescent yellow or pink high visibility top. This is essential for the child’s safety as it aids water safety personnel to identify swimmers. A child without a vest will not be allowed to enter the water.

  • Additional Items
    • Long sleeve shirt
    • Wide brim or bucket style hat or legionnaire style cap
    • Sun block (at least SPF 30+)
    • Goggles
    • Towel
    • Water bottle
    • Wetsuit (suggested only but recommended at the start of the season)
    • Dry clothes for after training (suggested only but recommended at the start of the season )

Age group caps, bathers and high visibility vests are available for purchase at the Club before Nippers. The Club also has other Club merchandise available for purchase online including hats (broad-brimmed and caps), long sleeve t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, and bags. Opening and closing dates for ordering windows are regularly communicated via email and through the Clubs closed Facebook page. Items can be viewed here: Club Merchandise.

Mid-Week Training

The Club provides additional training opportunities for Nippers who want to improve their skills and fitness. These are scheduled based on the availability of volunteers to coach and water safety personnel (no water cover, no training). Training times can be found here: training timetable.

Additional Information

For more detailed information about Junior training, procedures, and policies at Somerton SLSC please refer to the SSLSC Parent Handbook.

If you have any questions about the Junior program, please contact either the Junior Coordinator or Junior Administrator:

 We look forward to seeing you on the beach!