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Lifeguarding the Pool

Please note: Pool lifeguard qualifications are awarded by national organisations in your country, not by the Free Lifesaving Society.

Pool lifeguards work in enclosed water like swimming pools and waterparks. They are trained to use specific equipment according to their situation.

When they act, they do so as members of a team and they do so over very short distances. Most pool rescues involve a swim of less than 15 metres, but can involve any part of the pool, subject to size.

They will generally have to rescue people who got into difficulties because of their limited skills or confidence, or help those who have suffered from a medical problem.

Other tasks include looking after bather's comfort and entertainment, or tidying the floats and other toys. They may need to hop into the pool a few times each day to sort things out.


In Britain the Swimming Teachers Association (STA) trains to the National Aquatic Rescue Standard (NARS). The course takes a minimum of 38 hours and the qualification is valid for two years from the date of assessment. A minimum of 20 hours training must be logged in those two years for the individual to be eligible to submit for a renewal examination.

The training should include a module about the use of a long spine board, a specialist piece of rescue equipment designed for immobilizing a casualty suspected of suffering a Spinal Cord injury.

The employer of the lifeguard must also provide a minimum of 1 hour of training per month to comply with HSE guidelines.

The 10:20 System

The 10:20 system is an effective technique used by lifeguards all over the world. It requires scanning from one side of the pool to the other, or the designated area, in 10 seconds.

The second requirement is that the lifeguard be no further than 20 seconds away from any swimmer who may get into difficulty in the lifeguard's area.