The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the Drowning Prevention Charity, has today (5 April) launched a new qualification to keep the nation’s open water swimmers safe.

 The new, unique Open Water Lifeguard qualification aims to keep the rapidly increasing number of open water swimmers in the UK safe and supports the RLSS UK’s bid to increase the number of safe open water swimming sites in the UK. This qualification will allow all pool lifeguards who hold the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) to develop their skills and knowledge to lifeguard open water.

Open water swimming is the fastest growing sport world wide and this, combined with around 200 people tragically losing their lives in inland open waters in the UK each year, has led to RLSS UK taking action to reduce these figures and keep the nations open water swimmers safe.

RLSS UK Technical Director, Adrian Lole said: “Our ultimate aim as an organisation is to save lives and reduce drownings. We are thrilled to announce our Open Water Lifeguard qualification which will support this, by offering specific training for lifeguards to ensure more people can enjoy open water safely.”

RLSS UK is the leading provider of pool lifeguard training in the UK with more than 90,000 people trained in its National Pool Lifeguard Qualification. RLSS UK’s lifeguarded pools are the safest in the world with no drownings in an RLSS UK lifeguard pool for more than four years.

“We are the leading experts in pool lifeguarding and want to replicate this in open water with Open Water Lifeguard, the first of its kind. We want open water swimmers to be able to swim in the knowledge the lifeguards are highly trained but also want lifeguards trained in our qualification to make it possible for more open water swimming sites to be available to the public.

“With open water increasing popularity there is a risk that lifeguards without all of the skills they need maybe asked to lifeguard open water. This qualification can prevent this and equips lifeguards with the right skills to supervise and provide rescue for the nations open water swimmers during training and controlled activities such as triathlons and adventure swim races.

“Each summer during hot weather we hear of tragedies where people have gone to have fun and cool off in non lifeguarded open water. We want more people to have the option of swimming safely at lifeguarded site and are working with the government and local authorise to provide safe open water swimming sites,” Adrian added.

The launch comes following the launch of the UK’s Drowning Prevention Strategy at Parliament on 1 February and the announcement of RLSS UK’s partnership with British Triathlon on 9 March.

British Triathlon CEO, Jack Buckner said: “This is exciting news from the RLSS UK and a great initiative to support the growing number of people getting involved in open water swimming throughout Great Britain.

“British Triathlon is looking forward to working closely with the RLSS UK over the next three years to develop open water swimming yet further and ensure triathletes and swimmers can enjoy taking part in a fun and safe environment.”

To find out more about becoming an Open Water Lifeguard and the work of the RLSS UK –

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Call – 0300 323 0096