Lifesaving Sport

Welcome to the NEW Lifesaving Sports Area, this area has been set up to help you easily navigate everything lifesaving sport related! 

The Royal Life Saving Society UK is a National Governing Body for Lifesaving Sport - a sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation. 

Our aim is to provide an inclusive range of opportunities to increase participation in lifesaving activities.

We recognise the importance of equipping as many people as possible with valuable lifesaving skills to help save as many lives as possible and to help reduce the drowning toll in the UK.

Becoming a technical lifesaving official is an excellent way to get involved or stay involved in Lifesaving Sport.

You would be joining the College of Referees, the collective name for RLSS UK Officials, who have an excellent reputation at domestic competitions, but are especially well regarded at international competitions.

The Officiating Pathway

RLSS UK aim to have a clear pathway for the training and development of officials that meets the needs of the sport, including our competition and club development structures.

All candidates must attend and have completed the Branch Sports’ Officials course before starting on the SERC Officiating or Ocean pathways.


To become an RLSS UK Timekeeper attend the three-hour workshop.  This award can be delivered by any RLSS UK Official or a responsible individual with the Timekeepers’ Instructor pack.


To become a Branch Level Official, individuals need to complete a Branch course and gain experience at two competitions. Once achieved, individuals who have their Survive & Save instructor status can attend a Simulated Emergency Response or Ocean course to extend the competitions they can officiate at. For each specialism, the shadowed experience building will need to be completed at an appropriate competition.


To become a Regional Level Official, individuals need to have completed the appropriate Branch level award and then build experience. Officiating at, at least six separate competitions and fulfilling a variety of roles, depending on the type of official they are aiming for; Sports (speed), SERC or Ocean.


To become a National Level Official, individuals need to be a regional official in the appropriate area and complete a National course. Additional role workshops will also be made available to support those taking on these roles.


To become an International Level Official, individuals need to be a National level official in the appropriate area, have officiated at, at least three national level competitions and attend an international course.

To view more on the Officiating Pathway click here




  • None

Branch Sports’ Official

  • 16 Plus
  • Individual Membership

Branch Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC) Official

  • 17 Plus
  • Individual Membership
  • Survive & Save Instructor
  • Current LS3
  • Branch Sports Official

Regional Official

  • Individual Membership
  • Branch Official (of corresponding specialism)
  • Survive & Save Instructor (SERC Only)
  • Current LS3 (SERC Only)

College of Referees

The College of Referees is the collective name of RLSS UK Lifesaving Sport Officials.  They are led by the College of Referees Board, four elected officials who guide the development of the officiating pathway, act as the technical advisory group on rules, in addition to supporting ongoing training and development of RLSS UK Officials.

Convenor – Stephanie Andrews

Deputy Convenors – Alan Sutherland and Ian Hutchings

Officiating Roles


Ensures that all competitors can compete on a fair and equal level.

Referees are officials and shall be responsible for:

  • all matters of conduct.
  • the implementation of rules and regulations.
  • pre- and post event briefings.
  • working to ensure the safety of all.
  • considering, adjudicating and reacting to event needs.
  • decide if the decision of finish judges is confirmed by recorded times.
  • confirming all results.
  • The Referee can have deputies which assist in the conduct and organisation of the competition.

Event Director

The Event Director shall

  • be responsible for setting up and ensuring readiness of each of their events.
  • signal the beginning of each event to competitors with three short whistles, followed by one long whistle to signal the competitors to get ready (onto the dive blocks or ready to start from the side or in the water).
  • signal to the starter that competitors and judges are ready.


The Starter shall

  • have full control of the competitors from the time the Event Director turns them over, until the race has commenced.
  • decide if the start is fair and can disqualify competitors.
  • report a competitor to the referee for any misconduct taking place at the start.


The Marshall shall

  • be responsible for assembling the competitors in the appropriate order prior to each event, and for maintaining discipline among competitors before the start.

Head Scorer

The Head Scorer shall

  • be responsible for the overall record keeping, calculation of results, and release of official results for all competition events.
  • Act under the direction of the Referee.

Chief Timekeeper

Chief timekeeper shall be

  • Responsible for checking timekeepers’ watches are accurate
  • If electronic timing is used to advise on use of back up switch
  • Make sure paperwork is handed out to timekeepers
  • Be aware if any timekeepers watch has not started to note time for that lane.
  • If electronic timing is used to collect paperwork and liaise with referee re any disqualifications.

Timekeeping Judges

Timekeeping Judges shall

  • be responsible to the Chief Timekeeper.
  • be used to specifically as timekeepers.
  • time and record all events where needed.
  • other roles as needed.

Finish Judges

Finish Judges shall

  • determine the order of finishing of competitors.
  • report any breach or infringement of the rules to the chief judge or area/sectional referee or event director.

Lane Judges

Lane Judges shall

  • be a judge of fact in relation to the observation of the conduct of an event for the particular lane to which they are assigned.
  • report any breach or infringement of the rules to the chief judge, or area/sectional referee or event director.

Turn Judge

Turn Judges shall

  • ensure that the turn rules are being followed.
  • immediately raises hand to signal potential infraction.
  • describes the infraction to Referee or Chief.
  • writes up or signs DQ slips when asked.

Announcing panel

Announcers Shall

  • announce events, calls for athletes, results, changes to the programme
  • provide running commentaries of event activities, such as event descriptions, or explanations of official decisions
  • deliver messages to spectators

Competitor liaison

Competitor Liaison shall

  • be the first port of call for questions and queries from team managers and competitors