Surf lifesaving is an extremely varied activity and most children will find something to love, whether it's beach sprints, board paddling, swimming or first aid skills. The Junior Surf Programme at Red Beach focuses on confidence and fun, while developing surf lifesaving skills over time.
For younger children, the programme begins with water confidence activities and fun beach games. They then move onto learning how to compete in surf lifesaving competition events – surf swimming, boarding, tube rescues, beach sprints and flags. By the time they complete the Junior Surf Programme, they are ready to tackle their Bronze Medallion and are on their way to becoming qualified surf lifeguards.
The environment in which our activities are carried out means it's important that swimming proficiency increases as children progress through the age groups.
Children do not need to be able to swim for the first few years at surf club, but we strongly recommend swimming lessons with a qualified instructor to ensure that they get maximum enjoyment from the programme. While we support children to improve their swimming skills, as a club we do not provide swimming lessons.
When children reach the Under 9 age group, they work towards achieving their 200 metre badge to compete in water events at surf carnivals and club championships. This means confidently swimming 200 metres freestyle and treading water for one minute in the sea.
** For the surf lifesaving season, children's ages are defined as the age they are on September 30.
Tadpoles is all about getting children to enjoy the beach. The focus is on fun games on the sand and in the water that teach basic beach safety and confidence. They will start with diving through hoops to get their faces wet and progress to duck dives and boogey boarding. On the beach they will play tag, participate in fun relays and obstacle courses and learn the basics of events like beach flags. They will also learn how to ask for assistance in the water and when it is safe and not safe to go for a swim.
In A Group, children can participate in non-competitive carnivals so they learn how to compete in surf lifesaving competition events, including beach sprints, flags, surf races, board races and the diamond. They also learn basic lifesaving skills like identifying rips, being sun and surf smart and the importance of swimming between the flags.
Under 8s: Water events for this age consist of wading and boogey boarding, so while they should be able to swim short distances in the ocean, they do not yet compete in swimming events.
Under 9s and 10s: These groups work towards their 200m badge and, once achieved, they can compete in surf swimming and board races at carnivals. They will also be allowed to train on foam knee boards in deep water. At this age children learn to duck dive, body surf and catch waves on a foam knee board.
In B Group, children can participate in competition carnivals, including Northern Region Championships and Ocean's (the national surf lifesaving carnival for juniors). They compete in beach sprints, flags, surf races, board races and the diamond, as well as a range of relay events. If children have their 200m badge, they can train and compete on fibreglass boards.
At this age they will hone their skills in the surf – swimming, duck diving, body surfing, paddling boards in and out of waves, eskimo rolls and riding boards on their knees. They also learn lifesaving and safety skills, including identifying rips, escaping rips, using rescue equipment and basic first aid.
In C Group, children can compete in a larger range of events, including tube and board rescues, and at Twilight Carnival events. They compete and train on larger fibreglass boards and continue to develop their surf lifesaving skills, including first aid and rescuing patients in the surf.
Under 14s: In their final year of Junior Surf children participate in the Rookie Programme, which prepares them to do their Bronze Medallion and become a qualified lifeguard. The programme teaches CPR and first aid, signals, IRB crewing skills, how to use radios and assess beach conditions. The Rookie Programme includes opportunities to patrol as a Rookie Lifeguard, attend a Rookie Camp and participate in Northern Region's Rookie Challenge.