National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

What is a lifeguard?

As swimming is one of the most popular leisure activities, lifeguards enable people to swim in a safe and friendly environment. As a result of this the number of drownings within the UK are low.

A good lifeguard needs to be:

  • A strong communicator
  • A team player
  • A good leader
  • Professional
  • Able to anticipate problems
  • Excellent at observing and maintaining concentration
  • A quick thinker
  • A good educator (be able to pass on skills and knowledge to others and educate users by implementing pool rules and operating procedures)
  • Able to stay calm, especially in stressful situations
  • Someone with good people skills
  • Someone with a positive attitude

Think you’ve got what it takes?

The Qualification:

Training and assessment for the qualification is in three sections (or QCF units):

  • Section 1 - The Lifeguard, Swimming Pool and Supervision
  • Section 2 - Intervention, Rescue and Emergency Action Plan
  • Section 3 - CPR, AED and First Aid

Each section is broken into a further 3 elements (AED optional).

Candidates must pass all sections and elements to achieve the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification.

Assessment for the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification takes place at the conclusion of a training.

The course is a minimum of 36 hours for new candidates. It determines a candidate’s knowledge, understanding and application of the principles of working as a pool lifeguard and of his or her ability in a range of lifesaving skills as they relate to rescue in a range of common emergency situations that could occur in any pool.

Two bolt-ons (included in the course):

  • PXB Extraction board
  • AED

What do all these letters mean?

  • AED – Automated External Defibrillator (machine that diagnoses life threatening cardiac rhythms for example, ventricular fibrillation or flat lining and initials a electronic shock in order to attempt to restart the heart)
  • APL – Accreditation for Prior Learning
  • CPR – Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (trying keep oxygen circulating around the body and to preserve brain until further measures are taken)
  • PXB – Pool Extraction Board (used to safety get casualties out of the water, quickly and safety when a spinal injury has taken place)
  • QCF – Qualification and Credited Framework (internationally recognised credited qualification)
  • RLSS – Royal Life Saving Society (awarding body)


Candidates must be 16 years of age prior to assessment.

Candidates must complete a minimum of 36 contact hours of theory and practical training prior to assessment.

Candidates must complete exercises in ‘The Lifeguard’ manual.

Candidates must be able to meet the following basic fitness criteria:

  • Jump/dive into deep water
  • Swim 50 metres in no more than 60 seconds
  • Swim 100 metres continuously on front and back
  • Tread water for 30 seconds in deep water
  • Surface dive to the floor of the pool
  • Climb out unaided without ladder/steps and where the pool design permits

Assessment Procedures

New candidates

Candidates must have completed a minimum of 36 hours training and be able to provide written evidence of:

  • Attendance at all sessions
  • Having completed all of the skill and knowledge areas and completed exercises in ‘The Lifeguard’ manual
  • Having undergone continuous assessment of their progress throughout the course
  • Holding a qualification for which they propose seeking APL