National Lifeguard Pool

National Lifeguard

The National Lifeguard Pool certification is designed to develop the fundamental values, judgment, knowledge, skills and fitness required by lifeguards. The National Lifeguard course emphasizes the lifeguarding skills, principles and practices, and the decision-making processes which will assist the lifeguard to provide effective safety supervision in swimming pool environments.

Regarding the Standard First Aid Pre-requisite:

  • Proof of Standard First Aid or Aquatic Emergency Care must be shown on the first day of the National Lifeguard Course. 
  • Emergency First Aid and Occupational First Aid Level 1 are NOT equivalent to Standard First Aid.
  • Occupational First Aid Level 2 & 3 meets the Standard First Aid pre-requisite,
  • It is strongly recommended the SFA/CPR-C be current in order to be successful in the National Lifeguard program as first aid will not be re-taught within the course.
  • The BC/Yukon Branch will only recognize SFA certifications from the Lifesaving Society, Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canadian Ski Patrol.

Candidates who do not have an SFA certification from one of these recognized agencies (as above) will not be permitted to continue on in the National Lifeguard course and will be sent away on the first day of the course.

Bronze Cross Proof of certification
Standard First Aid Proof of certification - Current award recommended
16 Years old by last day of course
Next Step: 
Lifesaving Instructor
Instructional Time: 

44 instructional of  water and classroom time (not including breaks).
Taught by a current National Lifeguard Instructor.


A temporary certification card is issued on the last day of course to successful candidates that have shown all pre-requisites.  A permanent Certification Card will be mailed within 60 days.  Contact the Lifesaving Society if temporary card has expired and a permanent card is not received.


NL Core & Pool is current for 2 years.

Evaluation and Other Items: 

1. * Demonstrate knowledge of the principles and techniques of lifeguarding included in the NL test items, and answer questions drawn from the Canadian Lifesaving Manual (CLM) and Alert: Lifeguarding in Action, including:

  • Explain the role and responsibilities of the National Lifeguard in terms of role-modeling, prevention and rescue.
  • Describe how critical incident stress can impact lifeguards responding to both successful and unsuccessful rescues.
  • Define the legal obligations of the lifeguard in terms of duty and standard of care, liability and negligence.
  • Provide an example of a training activity to improve one component of physical fitness (muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, power or flexibility) as identified by the evaluator.
  • Explain how to adapt emergency procedures for a facility with only one trained lifeguard on duty; how to use auxiliary staff or bystanders; and discuss the value of written procedures as part of the staff manual.
  • Provide examples of regulations that govern workplace health and safety for lifeguards (e.g., WHMIS, Occupational Health and Safety, Worker’s Compensation) and legislation regarding harassment and violence in the workplace.
  • Explain the benefits of oxygen therapy, automated external defibrillation (AED) and oropharyngeal airways.
  • Explain the hazardous nature of chemicals used in aquatic environments and the special training required for their safe handling.

2a. * Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and strength for an object recovery: Starting in the water, swim 15 metres and surface dive to recover a 9 kg (20 lb.) object; surface and carry the object 5 metres – all within 40 seconds.

2b. * Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and skill for an underwater swim: Starting in the water, submerge and swim 15 metres underwater.

2c. * Demonstrate anaerobic fitness: Starting in the water, swim 50 metres head-up within 60 seconds (50 yd. within 55 sec).

2d. * Demonstrate endurance and strength for a submerged manikin or victim recovery and rescue: Starting in the water, swim to recover a submerged manikin or victim located 25 metres away; carry the manikin or victim 25 metres – all within 90 seconds (50 yd. within 82 sec.).

2e. * Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 metres within 10 minutes (400 yd. within 9:10 minutes).

2f. * Demonstrate endurance and strength for a distressed victim rescue: Starting in the water, approach 15 metres head-up to contact a distressed victim in deep water; carry the victim 5 metres supporting the victim’s head and shoulders above the surface.

3. * Demonstrate an understanding of:

  • Features that vary from pool to pool (or from time to time) and how analysis of these affects lifeguarding.
  • The role of water treatment systems in providing a safe and comfortable bather environment.
  • Environmental hazards of pools.

4. * Demonstrate effective communication with patrons, victims, other lifeguards, supervisors and emergency service personnel.

5a. * Demonstrate effective pool supervision using observation skills and scanning techniques.

5b. * Demonstrate effective pool supervision using lifeguard positioning and rotation.

5c. * Demonstrate an ability to recognize situations in which early lifeguard intervention may prevent a rescue emergency.

6. * Demonstrate three entries and three removals appropriate for a pool environment.

7. * Demonstrate an understanding of different rescue techniques appropriate for specific pool features and special situations.

8. * Demonstrate an effective search of the aquatic facility for a missing person as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.

9a. * Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water.

9b. * Demonstrate effective management of a submerged, non-breathing victim and perform 10 cycles of 30 compressions: 2 ventilations on a CPR manikin.

9c. * Demonstrate effective management of a suspected spinal-injured victim:

  • Enter and approach a face-down victim in deep water; roll victim over, immobilize and carry 15 m.
  • With the assistance of one back-up lifeguard and one bystander, manage a spinal-injured victim on land or in shallow water.

9d. * Demonstrate effective management of an injured swimmer.

10. Respond to emergency situations as a single lifeguard and as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.