BSA Lifeguard requirements
To enroll in the BSA Lifeguard course
you must be at least 14 years of age or have completed the eighth
To enroll in the BSA Lifeguard course, you must:
- Swim 400 yards. Jump feetfirst into water over your head
and swim continuously for 400 yards in a strong manner. The 400
yards shall consist of a minimum of 50 yards of elementary backstroke;
50 yards of breaststroke; 50 yards of front crawl or trudgen;
and 50 yards of sidestroke.
- Surface dive. Perform a feetfirst and a tuck or pike surface
dive in 8 to 10 feet of water and recover a 10-pound weight on
- Float. Demonstrate the ability to rest by floating.
- Dive. Perform a long, shallow dive.
- Row. Complete the basic handling test for rowboats.
- Demonstrate the ability to launch a boat properly,
row a straight line for 100 yards, turn, come back in a straight
line, land, and moor the boat properly.
- Participate in a swamped-boat safety demonstration, including
a demonstration of the use and care of PFDs.
Demonstrate each of the following aquatic skills:
- Perform a long, shallow dive into deep water and swim 25
yards in 20 seconds or less using an approach stroke.
- Throw a line for accuracy 10 yards, three times in one minute.
The line may be weighted, unweighted, or a ring buoy.
- Perform a rescue of a swimmer using a rowboat. Explain how
other watercraft common to your area can be used to perform a
rescue. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different
craft in making rescues.
- Perform each of the following rescues with the aid of a rescue
- Using a front approach, swim with the rescue tube
15 yards to a conscious, passive victim; extend the rescue tube
to the victim; have the victim grasp the rescue tube; and tow
the victim back to the starting point in the water.
- Using a front approach, swim with the rescue tube 15 yards
to a conscious, passive victim; wrap the tube around the victim;
and tow the victim back to the starting point in the water. Repeat
using the rear approach.
- Perform a stride jump into water at least 9 feet deep; swim
15 yards to an unconscious victim; perform a front surface approach;
position the victim for a wrist tow; and use the wrist tow to
return the victim to the starting point in the water.
- Perform a long shallow dive into water at least 9 feet deep;
swim 15 yards to the rear of the victim; position the victim
in either a single- or double-armpit tow; and tow the victim
to the starting point in the water.
- Jump feetfirst into water at least 9 feet deep; using a rear
approach swim 15 yards to an active victim; contact the victim
and level him or her using a single- or double-armpit tow; position
the victim in a cross-chest carry; and return to the starting
point in the water.
- Perform the following defenses and escapes:
- One- and two-hand block
- Wrist-grip escape
- Rear head-hold escape
- Front head-hold escape
- Remove the victim from the water using each of the following
- Pack-strap carry
- Lift from deep water assisted by a second lifeguard
- Shallow-water assist
- Beach drag
- Perform an ease-in entry into shallow water and approach
a victim who is facedown on the surface and simulating a spinal
injury. Turn the victim to a faceup position and support the
victim at the surface.
- Perform an ease-in entry into deep water and approach a victim
who is floating facedown on the surface and simulating a spinal
injury. Turn the victim to a faceup position and maintaining
contact, swim with the victim to a comer of the pool or the shallow
end of the pool.
- Participate in a back-boarding procedure in shallow water.
- Perform the requirements found in the Snorkeling, BSA, award.
First Aid ans CPR
- Show evidence of the ability to perform the skills and a
knowledge of the subjects covered in the First Aid merit badge.
- Show a knowledge of the procedures for treating a near drowning,
of the universal precautions for bloodborne pathogens, of personal
health protection, and of aquatics-related first aid.
- Have current certification in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR) from the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross,
or the National Safety Council.
an understanding of aquatics program and emergency-management
skills by correctly answering 80 percent of the questions in a
written or oral exam on theory and knowledge (the standard BSA
- Explain how to guard each of the following activities:
- Recreational swim (general swim)
- Unit swim
- Instructional swim
- Boating activity
- Special event
- Serve as a lifeguard, under supervision, for at least two
swimming activities (2 to 3 hours total).
- Only.those persons currently certified as BSA Aquatics Instructor
or as BSA Lifeguard Counselor may certify the completion of BSA
- Certification as BSA Lifeguard is valid for 3 years from
the date of application.
- All requirements must be met - no substitutions or omissions
- The completed application is sent to the local council service
center where BSA Lifeguard emblems may be purchased.
- To qualify for certification as BSA Lifeguard, the candidate
must complete the BSA Lifeguard course consisting of a minimum
of 30 hours under the direction of either a BSA Lifeguard Counselor
or a BSA Aquatics Instructor. The course for the BSA Lifeguard
is in the BSA Lifeguard Counselor Guide.
To be recertified as BSA Lifeguard, a person
who previously has been certified can complete the regular BSA
Lifeguard course, passing each of the requirements. Those whose
BSA Lifeguard certification is current or has expired within the
past 12 months can be recertified by demonstrating a current knowledge
of and ability to perform the skills necessary to fulfill BSA
Lifeguard requirements. it is not necessary to retake the BSA