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The primary purpose of the American Red Cross Lifeguarding course is to provide entry-level lifeguard participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide professional-level care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until emergency medical services (EMS) personnel take over. This program offers a choice of Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED courses to meet the various training needs of a diverse audience.



Complete all online Blended Learning before day one.

Candidates must:

  1. Be at least 15 years old on or before the final scheduled session of the course.

  2. Swim 300 yards, continuously demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing. Candidates may swim using the front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of both, but swimming on the back or side is not allowed. Swim goggles may be used.

  3. Tread water for 2 minutes, using only the legs. Candidates should place their hands under the armpits.

  4. Complete a timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds:​​

  • Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. Swim goggles are not allowed.

  • Surface dive, feet-first or headfirst, to a depth of 7 to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound object.

  • Return to the surface and swim 20 yards on the back to return to the starting point with both hands holding the object and keeping the face at or near the surface so they are able to get a breath.

  • Exit the water without using a ladder or steps.


Instructor Led: 28 hours, 35 minutes

Blended Learning: 19 hours, 45 minutes


To successfully complete the Lifeguarding course, candidates must:

  1. Attend the entire course and participate in all class sessions.

  2. Actively participate in all course activities, including assuming various roles during scenarios.

  3. Demonstrate competency in all required skills.

  4. Pass the final skills scenarios.

  5. Successfully pass final written exams with a minimum grade of 80%. If a participant fails to reach the minimum 80% on the final written exam, a retest is allowed using the other version of the exam, provided that the participant has passed the practical assessment.


Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a certification in Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED, which is valid for 2 years. However, for NYS only, CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer is only valid for 1 year.


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