Almost all of the Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving branch's 700 Nippers have finally got to don their caps with the season officially getting underway.
Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving president, Rod McDonagh, said it was great to have parents and kids down on the sand and in the water.
Mr McDonagh said Nippers gives young people skills in and out of the water and is also the training ground for local surf life savers.
One of the region's future life savers is 14 year old South West Rocks resident, Ollie Byrne.
Ollie did Nippers for six years. He has now completed his Surf Rescue Certificate and will be patrolling South West Rocks' beaches to keep locals and tourists safe this summer.
Ollie's Nippers skills were no doubt helpful when in January he rescued a young boy at Horseshoe Beach. He rode to the beach with friends late one weekday afternoon when he heard a woman screaming that her son was drowning.
The St Pauls College student, and competitive swimmer, had no hesitation in diving into blue bottle ridden water to bring the boy to safety on the rocks.
"I think I had an adrenalin rush and when I got to the rocks another man helped me get the boy out of the water," Ollie said.
He said it was good his parents, Alisia and James Byrne, got him to do Nippers. His favourite activity was the boards.
"Otherwise, I think I would have been a bit semi scared of the beach; Nippers did give me confidence in the surf," he said.
Mrs Byrne said she and her husband, who both grew up in the country, thought it was important for Ollie to do Nippers.
"Living on the coast, we wanted him to know how to read the surf and to be confident and safe in the water," Mrs Byrne said.
Mr McDonagh said Nippers couldn't go ahead if it wasn't for volunteer members, parents and supporter such as Newcastle Permanent.
"It takes a lot of funding and resources to provide surf life saving services and programs like Nippers, so our ongoing partnership with Newcastle Permanent is vital," Mr McDonagh said.
Newcastle Permanent CEO Bernadette Inglis said the organisation was proud to support and contribute to local communities.
"It's wonderful that local families invest their time to support their children to learn lifelong surf safety skills, and a lot of these children will grow and take on roles to keep our community safe while we enjoy a day at the beach in years to come," said Ms Inglis.
"It's an honour to have supported thousands of local children to participate in Nippers through our partnership with Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving," she said.
More than 700 young people aged five to 13 are registered to do Nippers across the eight Mid North Coast Surf Life Saving clubs from Macksville Scotts Head to Camden Haven. Nippers learn lifesaving and CPR, as well as surf safety, awareness, and rescue skills while completing fun surf sport activities such as catching waves, board paddling, beach sprints and flags.
Mr McDonagh said it was not too late to register for Nippers and all clubs are looking for more members and supporters to assist with Nippers, beach patrols and in the club houses. Visit www.slsmnc.com.au.
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