The power of one
Perth girl Toni-Lee Bromley during lessons at Kuta. Picture: Nashyo Tumbelaka

Witnessing two children drown off Kuta beach in Bali was a defining moment for Toni-Lee Bromley.

She was only 10 but for a girl who has been in a surf life saving club since she was five, it shocked her that the two victims had never been taught to swim.

It inspired the Sorrento schoolgirl to show the island's children how to stay safe in the water - and so she started Bali's first nippers program.

Toni-Lee, now 13, has raised more than $10,000 to pay five senior lifeguards to run yearly surf life saving lessons for about 60 children.

The money also pays for uniforms, sunscreen, kickboards and other equipment.

Every Sunday morning from April to October the children, aged 4 to 14, pull on their caps for their weekly two-hour swimming lesson on Kuta beach.

Swimming technique lessons are also held at a pool in Denpasar every two weeks, with entry funded by Toni-Lee.

This month, Toni-Lee and her family returned to Bali to run the inaugural Toni's Nippers in Bali club championships, which will crown a boy and a girl who have participated in the program.

The program, now in its second year, is the first of its kind in Bali.

Toni-Lee, who attends St Stephen's School in Duncraig and is a member of Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club, travels to Bali with her family up to four times a year. She speaks Indonesian which helps her communicate with the children.

She said she loved getting in the water and helping them learn.

Unfortunate events such as the drownings she saw at Kuta three years ago were often avoidable.

"I started it because one day while we were down at the beach two children died and one old lady died," Toni-Lee said.

"I asked if they had a nippers program and they said no, so I asked Mum if we could start a surf life saving program over there.

"It makes me really happy to see that I'm making a difference to their lives."

Each child who completes the course receives a medallion and a certificate that could help them get a job as a lifeguard at one of Bali's many resorts or beaches.

Toni-Lee's mother Gillian Bromley, who has travelled to Bali regularly for 20 years, writes the training program for the nippers.

"If we can educate 60 youngsters every year, hopefully as they grow up they can take their children to the beach," Ms Bormley said.

The West Australian

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