Open water lifeguard volunteers are the backbone of successful festivals and events. From helping with queries to getting people safely in and out of the water, the role of an event volunteer is varied, fun and incredibly rewarding.

RLSS UK Trainer Assessor - Fay Tennet - qualified as a RLSS UK Open Water Lifeguard in 2017 specifically to volunteer at events.

“I saw RLSS UK lifeguards at an event and thought it looked like such a good thing to be involved with, so I qualified as a Lifeguard the next year. I’m a very keen open water swimmer, and I love being able to help people do what I love,” she says.

Over the years, Fay has helped at many different festivals and events.

“I’ve done the Great North Swim nearly every year since I qualified, the Henley Royal Regatta, and the Wilderness Festival. The list of events RLSS UK supply lifeguards for has grown, now providing lots of options and a great variety of experiences.”

Her favourite is the Great North Swim - the largest mass swim event in the UK and set in the beautiful Lake District.

“Helping thousands of people enjoy the water safely gives me a real buzz, and because it is such a big event, lots of different teams working together – such as event organisers, medics, and boat drivers. Every year, when you meet the team, you instantly get into your role and support each other to make the event great. It’s hard work but good fun, and there is great camaraderie.

”Depending on the size and nature of the event, open water lifeguard volunteers can find themselves doing everything from helping people enter and exit the water safely to acting as a spotter to being the designated lifeguard on the rescue boats out on the water.

“You spend time talking to swimmers - helping them with queries and making them feel confident and safe. For the last two years I’ve been the lifeguard coordinator at the Great North Swim. I make sure the swim director has all the lifeguards he needs in the right place at the right time and look after the welfare of the lifeguards – making sure they are warm and fed, that they get breaks and a change in role to keep them motivated. It’s a bit more responsibility but extremely rewarding to know that you’re adding something useful to a huge event.

“It's also really nice to spend time talking to the swimmers, lifeguards, event organisers and other volunteers to share experiences, swap tips and hints about swims.” 

Event volunteers are always well looked after, receiving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and accommodation if required.

“Organisers often let volunteers swim at the event for free, where possible, and if you lifeguard at a festival when you’re not working, you get to enjoy the festival,” says Fay. Being an event volunteer also benefits her job as a RLSS UK Trainer Assessor, says Fay:

“When I’m training, I have lots of experience to share with the class, which makes you feel a more credible trainer, but also makes the trainees feel confident in your experience as a lifeguard and a teacher. It's really nice to be part of such a well-respected organisation - I feel proud to represent RLSS UK at events.”

Like many organisations, Fay’s employer has a Volunteering Policy, allowing her to volunteer at events without using precious annual leave. She intends to volunteer again in 2023.

“I'll have to see what events the RLSS UK need volunteers for next year as it is good to try something new. You get to see familiar faces, including other lifeguards and the event organisers from previous years and events. It feels like a family coming together. Knowing that you’ve contributed to an event going smoothly and helped people achieve something is also extremely rewarding! My husband is also an open water lifeguard, so we get to work together and have a wonderful time doing it.”  

For more information or to register your interest as an event volunteer click here