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. 

The National Speed Championships (#Speeds) is the largest competition of its kind in the UK, welcoming athletes aged 12 and upwards to compete for national titles.

The annual competition helps promote and develop lifesavers’ skills, knowledge and techniques, playing an important role in RLSS UK's water safety messages. This article aims to provide a quickfire guide to the individual events that make up the Speeds Championships.


100m Manikin Carry

Competitors swim 50m freestyle wearing fins. They then recover a submerged manikin and carry the manikin 50m to the finish.

50m Manikin Carry

Each competitor swims 25m freestyle, then dives to recover a submerged manikin. They then carry the manikin 25m to the finish.

Manikin Relay

Four competitors in turn carry a manikin approximately 25m each, handing over the manikin in the water.

Medley Relay

With a dive start, the first competitor swims 50m freestyle without fins. When they touch the wall, the second competitor swims 50m freestyle with fins. When the second competitor touches the wall, the third competitor swims 50m freestyle towing a rescue tube and touches the wall. Finally, the fourth competitor (wearing fins) dons the harness and tows the third competitor (who is now playing the role of “victim”, holding the rescue tube and/or clip) 50m to the finish line!

100m & 200m Obstacles

The competitors swim either 100m or 200m (depending on age group) passing under the immersed obstacles. Competitors must surface before each obstacle and after the last one.

Obstacle Relay

A team of four each swim 50m passing under two immersed obstacles. Competitors must surface before the first obstacle, after passing under each obstacle and after a turn prior to passing under an obstacle.

Line Throw Events

The competitor shall retrieve the line, throw the line back to their partner and pull them through the water to the finish.

200m Super Lifesaver

The competitors swim 75m freestyle, then dive to recover a submerged manikin. After surfacing with the manikin, they carry it 25m. After touching the wall, they can let go of the manikin and don fins and a rescue tube. They then swim 50m freestyle (wearing rescue tube and fins) to clip the rescue tube around a manikin and tow it 50m to the finish.

Pool Lifesaver Relay

First competitors swim 50m freestyle. The second swim 50m and dives to retrieve a submerged manikin. They then pass the manikin to the third competitor, who carries it 50m to the fourth competitor. The final competitor, who is wearing fins, takes the manikin and swims 50m to the finish.

100m Manikin Tow

Wearing fins and a rescue tube, the competitor swims 50m freestyle. They then clip the rescue tube around the manikin and tow it to the finish.


The following pieces of equipment are used for Speeds events: 

Lifesaving Sport Rescue Tube

The ILS rescue tube is the standard rescue tube used in speed lifesaving events. The tube is made from yellow closed cell expended foam of approximately 1m in length, and has a length of webbing and a stainless-steel clip attached to it. The traditional RLSS UK red 'torpedo buoys' are not suitable or allowed in speed competitions.


(often referred to as a 'Tango Man').

The ILS manikin is a standardised rescue manikin used for lifesaving sport. It replaces the 'live casualty' with a deadweight that is full equal and repeatable throughout the world, thus eliminating the problems with casualties who are different size, weight and buoyancy.

The manikin is orange in colour, made of high-density polyurethane or polypropylene material. There is a white painted band around the manikins 'torso' and another white painted area on the back of the head. When full of water the manikin weighs in at approximately 8 ½ stone. The manikin is 1 metre in length, and is sealed watertight with screw-in plastic 'bungs'. In speed competitions the manikin is full or half-filled depending on the event and the age of the competitors.

Throw Line

(17 metres) traditionally orange within the UK.

A throw line is a 17 metre multifilament polypropylene rope, 8mm diameter, 8 plait rope and traditionally orange in colour, however many juniors can and do train with a shorter and thinner rope.

Lifesaving Fins

Fins are measured while not worn. Swim fins used in competitions shall comply with the following specifications:

Length: maximum overall length 65cm, including 'shoe' or ankle strap (ankle strap extended).

Width: 30cm maximum at the widest point of the blade

Swim fins will not be permitted if they do not conform to the above dimensions or if they are considered to constitute a safety hazard.

Each team must provide their own swim fins for competitors.

All lifesaving sport equipment is available from RLSS UK Shop