Sharkies Nippers is a modified and structured Special Needs Program (which runs in conjunction with the Balmoral Nippers program), for children aged 6-11 with special needs to:

  • Foster an inclusive environment for all abilities
  • Improve safety skills and awareness on the beach and in the water 
  • Learn the basics of surf life-saving
  • Have fun, make friends and get fit!



Safety is our first priority

  • Ratio of 1:1 (child:volunteers) in the water, and depending on individual needs 1:2
  • Each group will have a designated Water Safety Officer (WSO)
  • WSO will decide what water-based activities can take place each week – WSO decisions are final

The Water Safety Officer must make sure that:

    • A risk assessment has been completed and the minimum supervision ratios and requirements are met before the commencement of any activity
    • The correct rescue equipment and/or patrol is available

Water safety personnel (parents/guardians) are:

    • Suitably qualified and competent for the conditions
    • Briefed on the conditions likely to be encountered during the activity
    • In good health and they have advised the Water Safety Officer of any pre-existing health conditions that may impact on their participation

Before the commencement of any activity, they have ensured that the participants:

    • Have the appropriate swimming and self survival skills for the activity and the prevailing conditions
    • Are in good health and that they have been asked to inform the Water Safety Officer of any pre-existing health conditions that may impact on their participation


Parent/Guardian participation

  • Parent or Guardian participation is mandatory – no adult means no nippers. This is not a ‘kiss and drop’ activity.
  • Parent or Guardian needs to wear rashie and be in the water during water-based activities
  • Please remember: the program is run by a small group of volunteer parents and friends and we are not Special Educators. Only you will know your child and their capability.  Buddy participation
  • Buddies are welcome but not mandated
  • Siblings, family members or friends all make good buddies and are actively encouraged to take part in activities
  • Buddies will need to wear full Balmoral nippers hat and kit (so we can see you in the water)




Location normally at the ‘rockpool end’ but may change due to Championships

10:05 Welcome, rules and safety briefing
10:10 Boards, swimming or wading
10:25 Flags
10:40 Beach games
10:50 Wrap up and presentation
10:55 Ends


Sample activities

  • Warm up run & stretches
  • Flags (modified)
  • Beach games
  • Surf patrol talk on water safety, tube & board rescues,
  • Wading activity
  • Board skills and catching waves
  • Sand activities (for those not keen on the water)

Modified flags

Show by example, standing up facing the flags, run up to the flag
Nippers run with volunteers/buddy, collecting the flag and hold  it up high
Encourage by clapping, high fives & cheering
More advanced start lying down, turning, heads down starts

Wading skills

Lifting knees high in the water
Lead the way around the water safety trainers who have hands above their heads to be recognised
Go in pairs with trainer
Start water safety in shallow waters until they build up confidence
Dolphin diving for more advanced

Swimming skills

Test out nippers abilities before going out too far
Wade in the water
May need to swim with noodle or goggles
Teach by example the swimming strokes
More advanced swimming around water safety trainers
Trainers need to be in arms reach of nippers at all times

Boards skills

Be aware of beach conditions, types of waves, wind & rips
Always have 1:1 or 1:2 trainers in the water depending on water skills
Start by lying on the board on the foreshore
Pretend to paddle with hands, digging in the sand
Move into shallow water and practice balancing on the board with trainers holding board
Explain where to lie on the board
Push nippers on their board onto broken waves
Building up confidence gradually go out deeper catching bigger waves



  • Parent or guardian participation is mandatory – children without 1:1 ratio will not be able to participate
  • Stay with the group at all times
  • Only entering the water with Water Safety Officer approval
  • Always swim in the allocated swimming area
  • Must wear nipper hat/uniform at all times whilst at nippers
  • If someone wants to go to the toilet, they must go with a trainer
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Everyone needs to help pack away