The National Lifesaving Academy was launched in October 2022 to replace Survive & Save as our senior lifesaving award programme.

It is the key offering for our lifesaving clubs to be able to train new lifesavers and fulfils an integral part of our charitable aims for everyone to be able to Enjoy Water Safely.

The new National Lifesaving Academy programme brought a key change: the ability to use the top-level award, the Bronze Medallion, as Recognition of Prior Learning against our RLSS UK lifeguard qualifications. This exciting addition provides a unique offering for our clubs and has brought several large commercial operators on board with the lifesaving programme, allowing us to reach even more young people with our core water safety messaging.

As is not unusual with any new award scheme, some adjustments must be made now that the awards are running in our clubs and leisure facilities. This blog post details our changes to the National Lifesaving Academy programme. You can find copies of all the updated documents and e-manual in your RLSS UK Account (powered by tahdah). Please always use the latest copies of the syllabus, guidance, and assessment records when planning your National Lifesaving Academy sessions.

Removal of the Chin Tow

The chin tow has been a long-standing technique used in lifesaving. Historically, it was used for conscious casualties who may have wanted to feel more secure and where rescuers thought they needed extra control.

 Breathing Restraint The subject has persisted with her struggling, causing the rescuer to waste valuable energy in controlling her. Rescuer deters further struggling by pinching the subject

As recently as 1970, rescuers were advised that should the casualty struggle, they could pinch the casualty’s nose and press their hand over the casualty’s mouth to stop them breathing. According to C.W.T. Collier's book Life Saving for Teenagers, this would result in the casualty holding onto the rescuers’ arm and stopping struggling. This is not advice we would give today. Indeed it was changed before the Survive & Save programme launched in 2011 that a chin tow should only ever be used on an unconscious casualty.

As our research has evolved we have learnt more about how different lifesaving techniques can be best applied in a rescue situation, and we amend our resources to include or remove them. The chin tow has not appeared in our vocational lifeguard qualifications for some years now. Just like we removed the wrist tow from our lifesaving awards, it was time to follow suit with the chin tow.

The use case for the chin tow was an unconscious casualty in moderate to turbulent water conditions so that control could be maintained and the casualty could be shielded from debris or objects in the water. The cross-chest tow fulfils this function in our National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification, allowing both more control of the casualty and enabling the casualty to sit higher out of the water. Alternatively, a clothing tow or a tow with a suitable aid could be viable in turbulent water. In calm water, an extended arm tow is almost always a better option.

The chin tow page of the current National Lifesaving Academy candidate manual will be removed from the Second Edition of the printed candidate manual and the e-manual. It has been replaced with alternative skills in the Bronze Star assessment records.

Post-immersion Heat Loss (previously After Drop)

The text on after drop in the three stages of cold water shock in the National Lifesaving Academy candidate manual has been changed. We needed to provide some clarity around heart attacks and cardiac arrests after prolonged immersion in cold water.

The section has now changed to talk more generally about post-immersion heat loss and the way that someone who has hypothermia may be affected as their body continues to cool once they have been removed from the water. Our advice on how to deal with a casualty suffering from post-immersion heat loss has been reworded but not substantially changed.

This change will be present in the Second Edition of the manual and the e-manual.

Assessment Record Changes

Some minor changes have been made to the assessment records. Primarily these were to correct inconsistencies in wording between assessment records and our guidance and syllabus.

As noted above, the chin tow option has been removed from any assessment where it was present and replaced with other viable tows that the rescuer could choose to use in that environment.

There was a mistake on the Bronze Medallion assessment records in the Wounds, Bleeding & Shock sections. The candidates were expected to treat a wound but were instead presented with a casualty with a fracture.

Additionally, clothing tow had been mistakenly given as an option in the ‘non-contact’ rescue section on the assessment records, which has now been rectified.

We have also asked assessors to assess candidates for bandaging in the Bronze Medallion exams. In the Bronze Lifesaving Certificate, candidates are only requested to apply direct pressure to the wound (although they could apply a bandage to achieve this).

Candidate Manual Changes

Like the assessment records, most candidate manual changes are to correct formatting and wording errors. The two more substantial amendments that Instructors should correct in their First Edition print copies of the candidate manual are the removal of the chin tow and the change of after drop to post-immersion heat loss.

The Second Edition of the National Lifesaving Academy candidate manual will be available in the RLSS UK Online Shop.


Our changes to the National Lifesaving Academy reflect feedback from lifesaving instructors, candidates, clubs and branches, and subject matter experts. We are grateful to every person who has contributed to improving the awards through their valuable feedback; we always welcome your ideas and contributions when it comes to our lifesaving awards.

Documents that have had changes made to them are available now in your RLSS UK Account (powered by tahdah). Please ensure that you use the newest document edition for training and assessing candidates.

If you still need to complete your update to your Lifesaving Instructor, Tutor, or Mentor award, you must do this before you can deliver or assess any of the National Lifesaving Academy awards. The update availability will finish at the end of December 2023, and you will need to have updated before then to keep your teaching award in date. To take the update, you must be in current membership and navigate to the ‘Online Learning’ section of your account.

Find out more about the National Lifesaving Academy