National Lifeguard - Waterfront

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 - Waterfront 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.


Waterfront 291

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

Candidate recognition: National Lifeugard crest, 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. *Waterfront facility analysis: Demonstrate an understanding of:
    • Features that vary from waterfront to waterfront (or from time to time) and how analysis of these affects lifeguarding
    • Enviromental hazards of waterfronts
  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 waterfront environments.
  4. *Entries and removals: Demonstrate three entries and three removals appropriate for a waterfront enviroment.
  5. *Skin diving skills: Demonstrate skin diving skills: Wearing mask, fins and snorkel, swim 5 metres at the surface; head-first surface dive and swim 15 metres underwater; surface, purge snorkel and swim 5 metres at the surface.
  6. *Rescue drill: Demonstrate rescue skills using equipment: Approach 5 metres on the beach with a rescue aid and fins; enter the water, don fins; swim 50 metres
  7. *† Use of rescue craft: Demonstrate effective use of a rescue board or rescue craft: Approach 5 metres on the beach; enter the water with a rescue craft; pick up a victim 100 metres away and return to shore.
  8. Physical standards
    1. *† Sprint challenge: Demonstrate anaerobic fitness: Starting in the water, swim 50 metres within 60 seconds (50 yd. within 55 seconds).
    2. *† Endurance challenge: Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 metres within 10 minutes.
  9. *Lifeguard communication: Demonstrate effective communication with patrons, victims, other lifeguards, supervisors and emergency service personnel.
  10. Supervision
    1. *Position and rotation: Demonstrate effective waterfront supervision using lifeguard positioning and rotation.
    2. *† Scanning and observation: Demonstrate effective lifeguard scanning techniques and observation skills in the waterfront environment.
    3. *Prevention and intervention: Demonstrate an ability to recognize situations in which early lifeguard intervention may prevent a rescue emergency.


  1. *Missing person: Demonstrate an effective search of the waterfront for a missing person as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.
  2. Victim management
    1. *† Management of distressed or drowning victim: Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water: Run 100 metres with a rescue aid; enter water and swim 100 metres to recover a conscious victim; tow or carry the victim 100 m; provide appropriate follow-up treatment.
    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.
  3. 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.