Bringing water safety skills to city kids

By Wright Communications

City Nippers runs throughout the school holidays for children aged 5-11 and is part of a broader Beach Education programme initiated by Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) and attended by thousands of school children since its inception.

City Nippers instructor Anne de Groot, a Sydney-based lifeguard who is in Auckland to assist in the training, says the programme reaches out to kids who are "unaware" of water safety issues.

"The kids get a great general understanding of the beach. Working in a group is very beneficial as it helps encourage those unsure about the water. It also shows the kids that there are many aspects of surf to be considered in order to stay safe and comfortable," de Groot says.

"Often kids do not get to experience how much fun it is and how much you can learn about the beach and surf at the same time. You never stop learning!"

But even though the programme is focused mainly on children with limited knowledge of the beach or water safety, de Groot says it can benefit children of all levels of proficiency in the water.

"Even if you think your child is a great swimmer, they might not understand all the dangers of the beach."

SLSNR Chief Executive Officer, Matt Williams, is passionate about the programme, which has had about 500 Auckland children enrolled this season.

"City Nippers is one of our most valuable tools as it allows us to reach otherwise difficult-to-access demographics. SLSNR has successfully brought the surf club to the city to allow us to educate this age group in ways that enable them to really enjoy New Zealand's favourite playground," he says.

"The programme gives the kids a taste of 'surf life saving' with one of our aims being to have participants sign up as members of a club to continue their journey and be future lifeguards."

City Nippers courses are run from Takapuna, St. Heliers, Eastern/Buckland, Maraetai and the occasional course at Mission Bay.

The weekly courses are from Monday to Friday. There are also some weekend courses on offer.

For more information about the programme or to enrol go to: or Email Beach Education Manager Sarah Mortimer at


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