State championships in nippers' sights

WARRNAMBOOL Surf Life Saving Club will have more than 50 nippers attempt to qualify for state championships next week.

The 55 young surf lifesavers will contest Life Saving Victoria’s western country region championships at Apollo Bay on Wednesday. The bumper carnival, which includes nippers from Lorne through to Portland, is one of five across Victoria this month.

Should they qualify, the Warrnambool nippers will chase state success on their home beach on March 8 and 9.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club nippers co-ordinator Dean Kilpatrick said the club’s junior ranks were “very healthy”.

“It’s all going along really well. We’ve got the states coming up in March, we’ve got 55 in the books for that,” he said.

“If we got at least one team in every age through for every event (at regions), that’d be a good result.

“With our competition squad, we’re training three hours on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday leading up to Apollo Bay.

“It’s a really intensive competition squad. From then on it’s twice a week leading up to states.”

Kilpatrick said the 55 nippers in the competition squad were among about 200 hitting the Lady Bay beach most Saturdays during summer.

“The numbers are roughly the same, very similar to the last two or three years. The numbers are pretty good,” he said.

“We’re retaining older kids, which is a good thing. We’ve got some good numbers in the 13s and 14s.

“They’re staying on to do their SRC (surf rescue certificate) and eventually do their bronze medallion.”

Kilpatrick said the lessons the young nippers learnt would hold them in good stead for life.

The program teaches them about beach safety and how to read the surf, as well as developing their ocean swimming skills.

“We want to get the message out that the beach is safe if they use it right,” Kilpatrick said.

The nippers program has a break this weekend but resumes on January 11 and runs through until February 22.

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