What Most People Don’t Know About Lifeguard Course

While being a lifeguard may look glamorous from the outside, not many people understand the rigorous training involved in obtaining lifeguard certification. As the lead trainer for American Lifeguard Events, I’ve helped thousands of students through lifeguard course work over the years. There are many aspects of the program that surprise even seasoned swimmers. Let’s break down some of the lesser known details.

Endurance is Key

The physical demands of being a lifeguard often catch students off lifeguard. During the course, you’ll be tested on swimming 500 yards continuously using three different strokes (front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke). You must maintain good form and swim the distance without stopping in under 10 minutes for most certifications.

On top of swimming skills, you’ll also need endurance to pass scenario simulations. Lifeguard course near me have to sprint, dive in fully clothed and tow a person 50+ yards. The scenarios are stressful and exhausting—made to mimic real life emergencies. Students frequently underestimate how tiring it will be. Proper physical preparation is a must prior to starting the course.

Knowledge is Power

While lifeguard course relies on physical skills, it’s really a mental job. You’ll spend a significant portion of the course in the classroom learning CPR, first aid, injuries, preventative lifeguard techniques and more. Expect challenging written exams along the way testing your comprehension and problem solving abilities. Don’t expect to just coast by on your swim skills alone. Thorough studying is crucial to certification.

Classroom Hours:

A certified lifeguard course near me requires extensive classroom time. Expect to commit 40-50 hours to classroom lectures, videos, and hands-on skill practice. Subjects covered include injury prevention techniques, laws and regulations, surveillance methods, basic first aid protocols, and decision making in emergency situations. Instructors use interactive lessons to ensure students fully comprehend the theoretical components of lifeguarding.

Water Rescue Drills:

Mastering in-water rescue techniques is a core part of any lifeguard course near me. Students will spend multiple class periods practicing basic and advanced rescues from the side of the pool as well as in deep water. Skills assessed include entering the water fully dressed, swimming rescue techniques, releases from grabs and holds, and spinal injury management. Rescues must be completed smoothly and efficiently to pass this portion.

Physical Fitness:

All lifeguard candidates must pass rigorous physical fitness pretests. Pretests check that a candidate can complete a 500 yard/meter continuous swim, tread water for 2 minutes without using hands, and carry/swim a 10 pound weight 20 yards on the surface. Students also complete aerobic step-tests to ensure they have the endurance needed on the job. This component ensures guards can perform rescues effectively while fatigued.

Ongoing Training:

A lifeguard’s duty is never truly “done” even after initial certification. Many facilities require guards to complete monthly in-service trainings to maintain their skills. These trainings may involve refresher drills, new rescue practice, case simulations, reviews of injuries/accidents, and recertification of CPR. Guards also study policies, rules changes, and take retests to remain actively certified on an annual basis.

Advanced Training Techniques

The training simulations and drills are no walk in the park either. You’ll go through intense exercises working as a team to practice rescue methods. Some techniques require entering the water fully clothed while wearing rescue gear weighing 30+ pounds like a rescue tube or spinal board. students frequently struggle with maneuvering bulky equipment in stressful scenarios.

Some of the more technical advanced skills include scanning techniques, emergency action plans, spinal injury management, first aid scenarios involving bleeding control or AED usage. It may take most students several attempts to complete scenarios within the required performance time limits and under the watchful eyes of instructors scrutinizing every movement. Repetition is needed to commit it all to muscle memory.

First Aid & CPR Certification:

Along with lifeguard-specific training, courses provide certification in first aid and CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer. This certification is valid for two years and involves intensive instruction on techniques like assessing injuries and illnesses, using an automated external defibrillator, managing bleeding and bandaging wounds, and performing rescue breathing and CPR. Students must demonstrate their skills through practical simulations.

Examinations and Evaluations:

Throughout the certification process, students will be evaluated extensively via written and practical exams. Written finals test comprehension of key concepts. Practical exams have students demonstrate rescues, spineboarding, first aid stabilization, and water skills under observation. Candidates must meet high performance standards on all requirements to achieve certification. Retakes may require remedial practice sessions.

It’s an Ongoing Commitment

Maintaining lifeguard certifications also requires continued education. Most are only valid for 2 years before recertification is needed. Even after the initial course, lifeguards need to keep practicing skills and taking refresher classes. Realistic scenario training doesn’t end after the final exam. It’s an ongoing commitment to remain a competent and prepared lifeguard. Complacency can cost lives, so staying sharp is of utmost importance for any professional guardian of the water.

The Classroom Lectures

The classroom lectures and water skills practice, students should expect to spend a significant amount of time outside of class studying and practicing on their own. The course material covers some advanced lifesaving concepts that may take extra reviewing at home to fully cement. We recommend designating at least 10 hours per week of self-directed study to supplemental reading, watching instructional videos, and honing your rescue techniques without an instructor present. Practicing with a study partner can also help quiz each other.

During the liveworldsashion practical skill sessions lifeguard course, instructors will demonstrate rescues step-by-step both on land and in the water. Then students pair up to take turns practicing the skills under supervision. Even simple maneuvers like entering the water smoothly or wading with a rescue tube look easy but require practice to master. Advanced techniques like spinal injuries management, uses of backboards, and vigilance testing under distracting conditions are particularly difficult and takes repeated trials to perfect. Be prepared to get wet, tired, and possibly banged up a bit as you gain experience.

Final Words

I want to emphasize that becoming a certified lifeguard course near me is a meaningful achievement that demands hard work and dedication. The certification process exists to ensure that any individual entrusted with guarding public safety has undergone extensive evaluation of their water rescue skills, first aid abilities, and decision-making competency in emergencies.

While challenging, going through lifeguard training and certification provides rewards that last far beyond passing the final exam. You’ll gain hands-on experience performing lifesaving skills that you can carry with you for life. You’ll also build confidence in your physical strength and stamina through the demanding course requirements. And you’ll have the satisfaction of acquiring in-depth knowledge about aquatic safety and injury prevention.

Most importantly, you’ll be certified to save lives. Every time you keep beach or pool patrons safe through vigilance and quick response is enormously fulfilling. Generations of families will enjoy recreation without worrying for their wellbeing thanks to lifeguards constantly on duty. That ability to protect others and provide peace of mind is truly priceless.


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