Open Water Lifeguard Qualifications

Open water swimming is one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK. The OWL qualification has been specifically designed to equip open water lifeguards with the skills required to supervise and provide rescue cover for planned, organised and risk assessed activities in still or non-tidal water.


About the Open Water Lifeguard Qualification (OWL)

The Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) Qualification was developed by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to address the role of open water lifeguards and the needs of open water operators. As the open water industry continues to grow, the RLSS UK have endeavoured to respond to change through the ongoing development of this qualification. The OWL qualification can be used to supervise and provide rescue cover for planned, organised and risk assessed activities in still, non-tidal water.

To find an Open Water Lifeguard course, click here!


OWL Course Pre-Requisites:

Every candidate attending a OWL course must: 

  • Be 16-years-old or over at the time of assessment
  • Be competent and confident in open water
  • Be able to submerge under the water confidently
  • Before the course, candidates must be able to swim at least 400 metres in a pool/ open water swimming continuously on their front and showing urgency
  • Able to submerge under the water confidently
  • Must complete minimum guided learning hours
  • Successfully complete the course assessment

Current National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) holders can use RPL* from their NPLQ and attend a one-day RPL OWL qualification course, which will include an assessment by an OWL Assessor if successful they will be awarded an OWL qualification valid for 2 years.

Note, this course must only be delivered to current RLSS UK NPLQ holders only and should not include non-NPLQ candidates or a combination of the both.

RPL New candidates: 7hrs + Assessment

*Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the process of recognising a candidate’s previous achievement towards part of a qualification.

To find an Open Water Lifeguard course, click here!


Course Content

The OWL enables candidates with no previous lifeguard experience to become qualified. By attaining this qualification candidates will have been assessed as competent to provide supervision and rescue cover for planned, organised and risk-assessed activities in open water still, non-tidal.

The Open Water Lifeguard Qualification, delivered over three days, is valid for two years and is independently assessed. The candidate manual and trainer resources help the Open Water Lifeguard Trainer Assessor deliver through the three sections:

  • Section 1 - The Open Water Lifeguard, environment, hazards and supervision
  • Section 2 - Responding to an emergency and taking action
  • Section 3 - CPR and First Aid

New candidates: 18hrs + Assessment
Renewal candidates: 10hrs + Assessment
 


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Open Water Lifeguard Qualification

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the process of recognising a candidate’s previous achievement towards part of a qualification.

Candidates that hold a current RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) can attend a one-day RPL OWL qualification course and will be externally assessed. Once successfully obtained the OWL qualification can be used as a standalone qualification to supervise and provide rescue cover for planned, organised and risk assessed activities in still, non-tidal water.

Note, this course must only be delivered to current RLSS UK NPLQ holders only and should not include non-NPLQ candidates or a combination of the both.

The RPL Open Water Lifeguard Qualification, delivered over one day, is valid for two years and is independently assessed. The candidate manual and trainer resources help the Open Water Lifeguard Trainer Assessor deliver through the two sections:

Section 1 - The Open Water Lifeguard, environment, hazards and supervision
Section 2 - Responding to an emergency and taking action

RPL New candidates: 7hrs + Assessment

Pre-requisites for RPL Open Water Lifeguard Qualification:

  • Must hold a current RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ).
  • Be able to meet the following criteria:
    • Confident in open water
    • Able to swim at least 400 metres in a pool/ open water swimming continuously on their front and showing urgency
    • Able to submerge under the water confidently
  • Must complete minimum guided learning hours
  • Successfully complete the course assessment

Become a Trainer 

For more information about becoming an Open Water Lifeguard Trainer - Click here