What it takes to be a lifeguard

Anyone who has been to our centre will have seen our lifeguards during their visit, but do you know what it takes to be a lifeguard?  All our lifeguards hold the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification as a minimum.  Before anyone can undertake this qualification, every candidate must be able to;

  • Jump / dive into deep water
  • Swim 50 metres in less than 60 seconds
  • Swim 100 metres continuously on front and back in deep water
  • Tread water for 30 seconds
  • Surface dive to the floor of the pool
  • Climb out unaided without ladder/steps and where the pool design permits


The NPLQ covers all elements of Pool Rescue Techniques, Lifeguarding Theory, First Aid and CPR. The course is physically demanding and will include swimming to set times, lifting casualties and diving to the deepest part of the swimming pool. Training and assessment for the NPLQ is in three sections and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.

Section 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law, Swimming Pool Supervision

  • Element 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law
  • Element 2 – Swimming Pool, Hazards and Control Measures
  • Element 3 – Swimming Pool Supervision

Section 2 – Intervention and Rescue and Emergency Action Plans

  • Element 1 – Intervention and Rescue
  • Element 2 – Rescue of a Casualty with a Suspected Spinal Injury
  • Element 3 – Emergency Action Plan

Section 3 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, AED and First Aid

  • Element 1 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Element 2 – First Aid
  • Element 3 – Automated External Defibrillation (AED)

Ongoing training and competency

In addition to completing the NPLQ, lifeguards must attend monthly training sessions.  These sessions involve classroom-based training on emergency procedures, rules for supervision and practical first aid, then pool based drills covering different rescue scenarios like those for a spinal injury depicted below.     We hold 2 sessions every month to ensure all our lifeguards are trained.  This is why we close the pools twice a month to facilitate these sessions.

What are the benefits of being a lifeguard?

  • Excellent starting point for a career in the leisure industry
  • Opportunity for career progression, as most leisure managers start off as Pool Lifeguards
  • Varied working hours
  • Work within a team
  • The NPLQ is recognised around the world, so potential to work and travel
  • Great way for students to fund studies
  • Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR


If you are interested in becoming a lifeguard, you can find your nearest course through the RLSS direct course finder.


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