Enhance your surf life saving skills, keep fit and compete for your club

IRB Training

Competition in surf lifesaving was developed to promote and maintain the skills necessary for surf rescue.  It’s a fun and exciting way to be involved with your club and a great way to stay fit. Events cover a range of disciplines including water events – board, ski and swimming and beach events – sprints and beach flags. Watercraft events are also available for qualified members including IRB’s and the historic event of Surf boat racing.

Competition covers all age groups beginning at Nippers all the way to Masters. Active patrolling members of the surf club can compete at club, state and national levels in a range of events.

ABSLSC has had some very successful competition teams in a range of disciplines and age groups and we’d like your help to kickstart our competition teams once again. If you would like to be part of the new ABSLSC Team contact the Competitions Director at

Age Categories

The different age categories our athletes can compete in are outlined below, please note all ages are as at 30 September:

  • Nippers – Under 8 (7 years of age) to Under 13 (12 years of age), competing at junior carnivals
  • Youth – Under 14 (13 years of age) to Under 19 (18 years of age), competing at senior carnivals
  • Opens (19 plus years of age), competing at senior carnivals
  • Masters (30 plus years of age), competing at masters carnivals


Competition training will be available for interested club members. These sessions will focus on developing skills and fitness required to compete in a range of events at surf carnivals. The sessions will be run by qualified club members, however we do encourage parents/guardians to assist our trainers in these sessions.

Training for the 2023/24 season will begin in November, in the meantime athletes are encouraged to keep fit and maintain their swimming skills in order to pass any competition requirements.

Most training will take place at Apollo Bay, however some sessions will be run at clubs closer to Melbourne and the surf coast, these sessions will be confirmed at a later date.


In order to be eligible to compete athletes much meet specific requirements in order to ensure their safety and competence during events, especially water based events. These vary between age groups as outlined below:

Bronze Medallion & SRC Members

Once members are no longer within the Nippers program, individuals will be required to meet patrol hour requirements in order to be eligible to compete, these are:

  • Minimum of 16 hours of patrol for Bronze Medallion Members
  • SRC members in the Youth Age Group are exempt from patrol hour requirements


Nippers must complete the Competition Skills Evaluation otherwise known as the S-badge. This is a test of swimming ability completed to ensure that all juniors have enough ability, strength and fitness required to be safe in a competition space. Only athletes that pass the S-badge as detailed below will be allowed to compete in carnivals.

  • Under 9 – 150 metre open water swim within 12 minutes – continuous freestyle
  • Under 10 – 150 metre open water swim within 11 minutes – continuous freestyle
  • Under 11 – 288 metre open water swim within 12 minutes – continuous freestyle
  • Under 12 – 288 metre open water swim within 10 minutes – continuous freestyle
  • Under 13 – 288 metre open water swim within 9 minutes – continuous freestyle
  • Under 14 – 288 metre open water swim within 9 minutes – continuous freestyle

Coaching & Officials

Officials Roles

Roles may include any of the following depending on what is required at carnivals.

  • Marshal
  • Starter
  • Recorder
  • Timekeeper
  • Finish judge

Official’s Pre-requisites

Members will be mentored by Allan Holmes OAM, LSV and Apollo Bay Life Member, Senior Official and winner of multiple Official of the Year awards.

  • Age 16+
  • Working with Children Check
  • SLSA membership
  • Online course and e-learning, practical assessment and workshop – the club is able to assist members with achieving this requirement

Coaching Levels

  • Foundation Coach – introduction to coaching for juniors
  • Development Coach – designed for coaches or training squads or teaching discipline specific skills
  • Performance Coach – provide knowledge and skills for planning and specific coaching sessions with a particular focus on athlete performance.

The club is able to assist members with achieving this requirement

Coaching Pre-requisites

  • Age 16+
  • Working with Children Check
  • SLSA membership
  • Bronze Medallion (for water based disciplines)


Nippers Event Choices

LSV runs a series of carnivals open to Nippers (age groups U8-U13 as of 30 September) throughout November to March. The finale of the carnival series is the LSV State Championships, held in March.  Refer to the following Life Saving Victoria table for events according to the nippers age groups.

Table illustrating nippers events according to age

Youth, Open and Masters Event Choices

The events available to our youth, open and Master’s team members are different to the events for Nippers. Due to the age and experience of these athletes they have an increased number of events to compete in, all of which focus on skills vital to surf rescue.  Click on the following to learn more.

Surf Boats

This event dates back to when surf boats were the primary method of rescues before IRB’s. Apollo Bay has a strong history in surf boat competition. Surf boats is one of the most historic and iconic surf lifesaving competitions. Surf boat races involve four rowers and a sweep in an eight-metre surf boat, with a maximum of seven crews in each race. The course consists of a start in approx knee depth water, then a 400m row out to sea before rounding a turning buoy and then a 400m return back to the water’s edge.

Water Events

These events involve taking on the waves, with surf knowledge and skills as well as strength and fitness. They are dynamic events that can be unpredictable and incredibly fun.

Single surf ski + Double surf ski race – From a floating start, competitors paddle surf ski’s around three buoys and return to the finish line. The finish is judged when any part of the surf ski crosses the finish line with the competitor and their paddle all in contact. Only members in the Open category are eligible to compete in this event.

Surf board race – From the beach each competitor enters the water with their board, paddles around all buoys before returning to the beach. The winner is the first competitor to cross the finish line on their feet and in contact with their board.

Surf Swim Race – Dry land start where the swimmers wade and ‘dolphin’ through the waves out to a set of buoys and back to the beach, body surfing the waves to assist.

Beach Events

Involves a range of short and long distance running events as well as beach flags and beach sprint relays. The sand adds another level of difficulty to typical running and is a great idea for summer cross training for club members that are keen runners.

Beach sprint – Competitors race on a straight sand course of approximately 70 – 90 metres to the finishing line.

Beach relay – Teams of 4 competitors race on a straight sand course of approximately 70 – 90 metres with a baton, running one lap each. The final runner of a team over the finish line wins.

Beach flags – Competitors start lying on their stomach facing away from a baton/s buried in the sand approximately 15 – 20 metres away. There is always less batons than competitors. On the starting gun, competitors rise, turn and race to secure a baton. The competitor(s) who fail to obtain a baton are eliminated. The process repeats until there is a single winner.

2 km beach run – U15 to Opens & Masters competitors race on a sand course in four laps of 500 metres to total approximately 2 km.

1 km beach run – Masters competitors race on a sand course in two laps of 500 metres to total approximately 1 km.

IRB Racing

The Surf Rescue – Starting on the beach, a driver and crew race to a turning buoy, complete a 360-degree turn, collect a patient at a second buoy and race back to the beach where the driver exits and sprints up the beach.

The Mass Rescue – Completed in the same fashion; however, when the driver exits, they run around a beach marker while the crewman turns the boat around. They then proceed to collect a second patient.

Tube Rescue – The same principle as above is adopted; however, upon rounding the first buoy, the crew exits with a rescue tube and swims 25 meters to collect a patient. They return to the boat and climb in. The driver then rounds the buoy a second time and returns to shore.

Team Rescue – This is similar to a Mass Rescue; however, after the first patient is rescued, the driver and crew tag a new crew in a relay fashion to go out and rescue a second patient.

IRB Relay – This event combines all the events above into one race, with five crews competing as a team tagging the new crew after each event leg.

The LSV Sports calendar linked below lists this seasons carnivals.

2023/24 LSV Aquatic Sports Calendar