Lifesaving Sport

The Royal Life Saving Society UK is the National Governing Body for pool-based Lifesaving Sport - a sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation. Lifesaving Sport is the only sport whose skills are first learned for humanitarian purposes.

As showcased in our new promotional video, Lifesaving Sport is a competitive and dynamic international sport, with a variety of fun and challenging activities that take place in and out of the water at swimming pools and the beach. It is also an important vehicle to engage young people in lifesaving and support drowning prevention. 

Lifesaving Sport takes place in and out of water, at swimming pools, and at the beach. The sport provides variety, fun, and challenging activities for lifesavers of all ages.

It can provide fantastic opportunities to mix with lifesavers from around the UK and the rest of the word through competition. It is also the only sport in the world to have a humanitarian element. 

You can get into Lifesaving Sport at any age - all you need is some enthusiasm as you'll learn the skills along the way! 

Whilst there is no requirement to take awards in Lifesaving Sport, they are an excellent place to start. Here are some of the RLSS UK Lifesaving Sport awards that are currently available...

Rookie Sport - 8 to 12 years

Rookie Sports Bolt-on

Rookie Sports awards are a series of bolt-ons which offer a progressive introduction to Lifesaving Sport skills. Skills are broken down into sections to allow for skill development, and targets are set to support the development of fitness and speed. This award, while aimed at Rookies (8 to 12 years), can be used as an introduction for any age group.

Rookie Sport: Diving

This bolt-on provides a progressive introduction to diving. This award is an excellent pre-runner for the competitive start checklist (a requirement for pool based competition).

Rookie Sport: Beach Running

Beach Running is an experiential award to introduce Rookies to specific aspects of Lifesaving Sport. It can be completed during visits to the beach or in a suitable outside area.

It is recommended that Beach Sport: Beach Running is completed after the Beach Activities Award as the Beach Activities Award provides an excellent introduction to safety at the beach.

Learn more about our Rookie Lifeguard programme

National Lifesaving Academy (NLA) - 12+ years

Lifesaving Sport Awards

The RLSS UK National Lifesaving Academy has a set of Sport Awards designed to challenge and develop your Lifesaving Sport skills and build your fitness.

Lifesaving Sport is a unique and challenging sport, because it combines competitive swimming skills with modified rescue skills from the world of lifesaving and lifeguarding.  

Whilst taking the Lifesaving Sport Awards you will also develop real lifesaving skills so you will know what you do if a real-life emergency happens near you.

Learn more about the NLA Sport Awards

Competitive Start - 12+ years

The competitive start competency checklist was introduced several years ago to ensure the safety of lifesavers who perform dives, especially with equipment.  The skill of diving is progressively introduced, with the slow introduction of equipment.  Completion of the appropriate level of diving competency is demanded for dive starts under RLSS UK rules.

RLSS UK Competitive Starts

RLSS UK guidance is that such competence should be demonstrated by achieving the standard of the RLSS UK Diving Competency.

For Club, Branch, Regional and National competitions where no diving from blocks occurs, only sections 1 and 2 (highlighted in blue) need to be completed. However, any Lifesaver competing at any speed competition will need to complete all sections.

If a Lifesaver suffers an injury while performing racing dives our insurers may request written confirmation of the competence of the Lifesaver and any training undertaken.

It is therefore essential that both the club and the coach, keep records up to date regarding the competence and training of the Lifesavers.

The RLSS UK Diving Competency is designed to assess:

  • The Lifesaver's ability to perform a safe racing dive into deep water from the side of the pool
  • The Lifesaver's ability to perform a safe racing dive into deep water from a starting block
  • The Lifesaver's ability to perform a safe racing dive into shallow water from the side of the pool
  • The Lifesaver’s ability to perform safe entries in all the above whilst wearing a rescue tube
  • The Lifesaver’s ability to perform safe entries in all the above whilst fins
  • The Lifesaver's ability to perform safe entries in all the above whilst wearing fins and wearing a rescue tube


Diving Competency guidance notes

Diving Competency Check List