Lesson 9 – 40 minutes

Learning outcomes

  • Recognise how body boards can be used to assist a distressed swimmer
  • Demonstrate skills required to assist a distressed swimmer


  • Nipper Boards
  • Water Safety Personnel (1:5).


  • If you are not confident coaching the skills in this lesson bring in a surf sports athlete or coach to help deliver the lesson.
  • Discuss the surf conditions and safety considerations before entering the water.


  • When you might use a body board to assist a distressed swimmer (i.e. when you’re already out in the water on a body board and you see someone in trouble).
  • The importance of a careful approach to a distressed swimmer:
  • They will want to grab onto anything and could pull you under, they might be panicking and not in control of their actions.
  • What to do if the distressed swimmer grabs hold of you (head under the water, a distressed swimmer won’t want to go underneath the water with you because they are trying to stay above the water).


  • Ask a participant to pretend to be a distressed swimmer while you are the body boarder.
  • Pretend to body board over to the distressed swimmer.
  • When in voice range reassure the swimmer and let them know what you are going to do.
  • When a safe distance away slide off your board and pass the board to the swimmer so they can take a hold of it.
  • When they have hold of the body board signal for ‘assistance required’.

Activity 1

1. Pair up the participants and give each pair a body board.
2. Have each pair practice helping a distressed swimmer, same as the earlier demonstration.
3. Ensure everyone has a turn being the distressed swimmer and the rescuer.

Activity 2

1. Repeat Activity 1 in the water in an area close to shore and marked out by Water Safety Personnel.


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