National Lifeguard - Pool

National Lifeguard certification is Canada's professional lifeguard standard and is designed for lifesavers who wish to obtain a responsible job and leadership experience. Successful candidates are certified by the Lifesaving Society - Canada's lifeguarding experts.

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 that will assist the lifeguard to provide effective safety supervision in swimming pool environments.

Prerequisites: Minimum 15 years of age. Bronze Cross certification and Lifesaving Society Standard First Aid (need not be current) or SFA from one of these approved agencies.



Instruction and certification: Current National Lifeguard Instructors  (who hold National Lifeguard Pool) teach and evaluate most items, but only National Lifeguard Examiners (who hold National Lifeguard Pool) may certify candidates. The Lifesaving Society deems its certifications to be "current" for 24 months from the certification date.

Candidate recognition: National Lifeguard certification card.

Required reference material: Alert.



Test Items

  1. *Lifeguarding theory and practice: Demonstrate knowledge of the principles and techniques of lifeguarding included in the National Lifeguard test items, and answer questions drawn from the Canadian Lifesaving Manual (CLM) and Alert: Lifeguarding in Action.
  2. *Pool facility analysis: 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
    • Enviromental hazards of pools
  3. *Rescue aid proficiency: Demonstrate proficiency in the use of buoyant and non-buoyant rescue aids appropriate for a variety of victim types in supervised pool environments.
  4. *Entries and removals: Demonstrate three entries and three removals appropriate for a pool enviroment.
  5. *Rescue drill: 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 20 metres away; carry the manikin or victim 20 metres.
  6. Physical standards
    1. *Underwater swim: Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and skill for an underwater swim: Starting in the water, submerge and swim 15 metres underwater.
    2. *† Object recovery: 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.
    3. *† Sprint challenge: Demonstrate anaerobic fitness: Starting in the water, swim 50 metres within 60 seconds (50 yd. within 55 seconds).
    4. *† Endurance challenge: Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 metres within 10 minutes (400 yd. within 9:10 minutes).
  7. *Lifeguard communication: Demonstrate effective communication with patrons, victims, other lifeguards, supervisors and emergency service personnel.
  8. :::
  1. Pool supervision
    1. *Position and rotation: Demonstrate effective pool supervision using lifeguard positioning and rotation.
    2. *† Scanning and observation: Demonstrate effective lifeguard scanning techniques and observation skills in the pool environment.
    3. *Prevention and intervention: Demonstrate an ability to recognize situations in which early lifeguard intervention may prevent a rescue emergency.
  2. *Specialized techniques: Demonstrate an understanding of different rescue techniques appropriate for specific pool features and special situations.
  3. *Missing person: Demonstrate an effective search of the aquatic facility for a missing person as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.
  4. Victim management
    1. *† Management of distressed or drowning victim: Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water with and without an aid.
    2. *† Management of submerged, non-breathing victim: Demonstrate effective management of a submerged, non-breathing victim and perform 10 cycles of 2 ventilations:30 compressions on a CPR manikin.
    3. *Management of spinal injured victims: With the assistance of one back-up lifeguard or assistant lifeguard and one bystander, demonstrate effective management of suspected spinal-injured victims (breathing and non-breathing) found in the water.
    4. *† Management of an injured victim: Demonstrate effective management of an injured victim on land or in the water.
  5. Lifeguard situations
    1. † Single lifeguard situation: As a single lifeguard, respond to a situation in a supervised aquatic setting with one auxiliary staff member.
    2. † Lifeguard team situations: As a member of a lifeguard team, respond to situations in a supervised aquatic setting.

*Asterisk indicates instructor-evaluated item. The † symbol denotes the only items evaluated during a recertification.