National Lifeguard Examination Policy

Effective January 1, 2023

The Lifesaving Society Ontario's National Lifeguard Examination Policy defines the minimum conditions under which National Lifeguard examinations may occur:

  1. All National Lifeguard examinations must be submitted by an Affiliate Member of the Society.
  2. Environmental requirements to adequately prepare candidates for supervision and rescue response in each of the four National Lifeguard options:
    • Pool: A body of water that is a minimum of 15 m in length, 5 m in width and a minimum of 1.5 m in depth (3 m preferred) at the deepest end.
    • Waterpark: An aquatic facility or swimming pool with a minimum of:
    • Three (3) types of basins or zones (e.g., swimming pool, wave pool, catch basins, river ride).
      Three (3) aquatic features with moving water or moving riders such as a wave pool, water slide (minimum 3 m in height), and other activity (e.g., river ride, flow rider, inflatable waterpark, zip line, rope swing).
    • Waterfront: An open water environment with beach access.
    • Surf: An open water environment with beach access and:
    • A minimum wave height of 1 m at least 60% of the time.
      Two (2) ocean features such as tides, currents and wave-breaking zones.
  3. All examinations must be conducted with the minimum equipment identified on the current National Lifeguard Examination Equipment List.
  4. The minimum number of candidates is one. However, additional and currently certified National Lifeguards must participate during situations - as the second lifeguard. The second lifeguard may not be the National Lifeguard Examiner conducting the exam.
  5. In lifeguard situations, scenarios may include any of the test items within the National Lifeguard option (e.g., public relations, drowning non-swimmer, submerged victim, spinal-injured victim, injured swimmer, facility emergency, environmental emergency). Note that first aid conditions are limited to those outlined in Appendix A of the National Lifeguard Award Guide.
  6. The minimum number of potential victims may not be less than six. Victims' names and contact information must be recorded and submitted with the test sheets.

    On exams with eight candidates or more, no additional "victims" are required (because this number provides for two-lifeguard situations with six victims). However, on exams with fewer than eight candidates, the number of candidates and the number of additional volunteers must add up to a minimum of eight, and the names and contact information for all volunteers must be submitted with the test sheets.


The Society has standardized National Lifeguard recertification exams by designating the mandatory (and only) items to be evaluated during a recertification. These items are: found on the National Lifeguard Recertification test sheets; marked with the † symbol in the National Lifeguard Award Guide; and listed in the National Lifeguard Recertification Notes for Examiners.