2023 Update Info

Ontario transition to the updated National Lifeguard program

The Lifesaving Society has updated the National Lifeguard program to ensure its curriculum and performance standards remain current, relevant and grounded in the competencies required by lifeguards. Download a PDF version of the National Lifeguard Update.

Affiliates may begin offering the updated National Lifeguard program at their earliest convenience – as soon as their National Lifeguard Instructors are updated – but no later than December 31, 2023.

Key changes

The updated National Lifeguard program features improvements to test item descriptions, purpose statements, Must Sees and notes. Some items have been replaced or combined, and a few have been added.

Single-lifeguard and team situations: In Pool and Waterfront options, instructors will find lifeguard situations presented separately to facilitate independent evaluation of the single-lifeguard response versus lifeguard team responses.

New Rescue Aid Proficiency item: This item demonstrates candidates’ mastery of a fundamental lifeguard competency, which is particularly important in single-lifeguard situations.

Measurable physical standard items: All physical standards now have measurable time, distance and weight requirements. Fitness items in which candidates carried a victim have been retired, repurposed or absorbed into other skill items. For example: the “spinal carry” (Waterpark) is retired and “rescue drill” is now a skill item with no time requirement. The physical components of the “approach and carry” (Pool and Waterpark) and “victim carry” (Waterfront and Surf) have been absorbed in the management of a distressed or drowning victim items.

Victim management items: Candidates may choose their own victims in the distressed or drowning, non-breathing and spinal-injured victim items. The distressed or drowning victim item is performed with and without an aid. Spinal-injured victim item now includes breathing and non-breathing victims.

In addition:
  • New items have been introduced: Endurance swim (Waterfront and Surf), Sprint challenge (Waterpark and Waterfront) and Object recovery and Management of an injured victim (Waterpark).
  • Some items have not changed but their Must Sees have been updated or refined for accuracy, clarity and achievability.
  • Knowledge of the benefits of bag-valve masks and suction is required in Lifeguarding theory and practice (Pool and Waterfront). Use of this equipment is not a requirement.
  • The ability to identify appropriate lifeguard supervision zones is now a Must See requirement in positioning and rotation items.
  • Appendix A first aid requirements feature some additions and minor updates to ensure continued consistency with Canadian standards and current ILCOR guidelines.

No changes to prerequisites or programming hours

There are no changes to prerequisites: National Lifeguard candidates must hold Bronze Cross, Standard First Aid and be a minimum of 15 years of age.

There are no changes to the minimum time requirements. For example, National Lifeguard – Pool still requires a minimum of 40 hours. A Pool option recertification remains at a recommended 4-8 hours for 12-16 candidates.

New resources

New resources support instructors, examiners and affiliates:

NL Award Guide 2022

The National Lifeguard Award Guide (Third edition, revised 2022) features updated test requirements and evaluation standards for National Lifeguard certification in Pool, Waterpark, Waterfront and Surf options.

The new Teaching National Lifeguard USB flash drive contains the PowerPoints and other resources used by National Lifeguard Instructors teaching the National Lifeguard certification. Teaching National Lifeguard is designed to be used with the updated award guide and features 216 pages of Course Outlines and detailed Lesson Plans for Pool, Waterpark and Waterfront courses.

The revised award guide and the new Teaching National Lifeguard USB are now part of the National Lifeguard Instructor Pack. All available from www.LifeguardDepot.com.

New test sheets

The revised program is supported by new (2022) and fillable National Lifeguard test sheets for each option. New Recertification test sheets carry only the mandatory items that are evaluated in recerts. Download the new test sheets from Find a Form on the Society’s website.