Pool noodles, boards and lifeguard equipment on pool deck

Many young people wonder about their next steps once they finish their swim program. And there are lots of options, they could go into competitive swimming or another water sport, or they may want to explore the aquatic leadership option. And to help them better understand what that path looks like, the team at DSH has put together the most important things you need to know before taking an aquatic leadership course. 


What is Aquatic Leadership

Before we go into the details, let’s understand what “aquatic leadership” means. The aquatic leadership path is intended for people who love water, are strong swimmers, and want to help others. The courses on this route will train participants in advanced water safety, first aid, problem-solving and decision-making skills. It is the pathway to becoming a Lifeguard or a Swim Instructor, and from there, to other positions in the Aquatic industry. 


Courses and Prerequisites

Now that the outcome of the aquatic leadership path is clear, let’s go into the courses that participants need to take to complete it:


Bronze Star, Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross

Bronze Star is the introductory level to the leadership program; after completion, there’s the Bronze Medallion, and participants can take their Bronze Cross after finishing that one. 

The Bronze courses will train participants in the four components of water rescue education: judgement, knowledge, skill and fitness. Once they get their Bronze Cross, they will be considered Assistant Lifeguards. 

The Bronze Star program is open for candidates over 11 years of age. Bronze Medallion for those over 13 years old or who already have their Bronze Star. And Bronze Cross is available for those with a Bronze Medallion and EFA (Emergency First Aid) certification. 

Each certification has a 24-month validity. And if needed, there is a Bronze Cross Recertification course available. 


Emergency & Standard First Aid

As part of the aquatic leadership training, participants must learn how to respond to injuries and medical emergencies. 

In most cases, the Emergency First Aid (EFA) course will be taken at the same time as the Bronze Medallion since it is a prerequisite for Bronze Cross. This course will teach candidates first aid principles, the emergency treatment of injuries, and adult and child CPR. 

The Standard First Aid (SFA) course will give a deeper understanding of how to treat medical emergencies and injuries while incorporating most of the elements of the EFA course. This certificate will be a prerequisite for any of the following courses, so taking it as soon as you complete your Bronze Cross is recommended. 

To comply with WSIB, the SFA certificate should be recertified every three years. 


National Lifeguard (NL)

When participants reach this point of the path, they can decide if they want to follow the Lifeguard or the Instructor stream. Or they can even do both, and double their aquatic skills!

The National Lifeguard course is certified by the Lifesaving Society of Canada and is the only nationally recognized lifeguard program. This certification will train participants in lifeguarding principles, effective rescue response in emergencies, identifying hazards, determining safe practices, and educating the public on water safety. 

After completing this course, participants can work as certified lifeguards.

To be eligible for the NL, candidates must be 15 years of age, have a Bronze Cross certification, and have a Standard First Aid. After 24 months, all participants must recertify their NL with a recertification course. 

A rewarding and challenging job, being a lifeguard will open lots of work opportunities. 


Swim Instructor

For those who would have a more hands-on job, the swim instructor certification will provide candidates with the tools to teach swimming at different levels (tots, preschool, kids, adults), stroke development drills, and correction techniques. 

By acquiring their swim instructor certification, participants will be ready to teach an essential life skill, communicate appropriately with swimmers of all ages, and have the capacity to plan swim lessons and see their students improve class after class. 

To take this course, candidates must be 15 years of age and must also have a Bronze Cross certification. 

Once in possession of a Swim Instructor certificate, you are ready to kickstart your career in the aquatics industry. 


Lifesaving Instructor

For those that love teaching and want to be involved in aquatics in a different way, there is the option to become a Lifesaving Instructor. Learn how to plan, teach, and evaluate the Lifesaving Society courses (Patrol, Bronzes, EFA). 

As with the Swim Instructor certification, candidates must be 15 years of age and have a Bronze Cross. 


How to get ready for your course?

To succeed in these aquatic leadership courses, participants should have strong swimming skills and good physical form. There will be timed swims, rescues, carries and tows. Before the course, make sure you are up for the tasks that will be asked of you. The key to success is training. 

All participants should give the course description a good read. It will tell them about the skills that will be trained and evaluated during the program. These should be the main points to focus on while training, especially those skills that might be less developed. 


What do you need to bring?

You’re registered, you’ve trained, and now what? First, get a good night’s sleep and pack your bag with a swimsuit, a towel, flip-flops (or crocs), snacks, and a non-breakable water container (it’s important to stay hydrated). Next, read the welcome email carefully from the course; there will be important information about other things you might need, like manuals, first aid kits, proof of age or previous certifications. 

Make sure to arrive on time and bring your best energy! 


Next Steps

And what happens after you get your last certificates? You are ready to get a job! Go online or ask your friends; there are lots of opportunities out there, you just need to find the best one for you!

If you want to start your journey as a swim instructor, we would love for you to apply; at Davina’s Swim House, we are always looking for energetic and fun staff. Check our current job openings at https://davinasswimhouse.com/join-our-family/.