Lifesaving courses


For dates & times of classes, please consult our Online Registration system.

Become a lifeguard and instructor through courses offered at the YMCA!

Swimming and water safety instruction has been one of the pillars of the YMCA, with over 80 years of experience in this area. Swimmers interested in becoming a lifeguard can participate in the Lifesaving Society’s certifications offered at the YMCA.

Training required to become a lifeguard

Lifesaving courses: dates and rates

Lifesaving courses and dates vary by YMCA centre. For more information, please consult the schedule of your local YMCA. In addition, you can consult your YMCA’s aquatic activities brochure.

Benefits of lifesaving courses

  • Psychological: stress management, improved focus and self-esteem;
  • Fitness: weight management and increased cardiovascular capacity, strength and endurance;
  • Motor skills: improved coordination, balance, posture and agility.

Bronze Star

  • Age: 11 to 13;
  • Prerequisite: must be able to swim 100 metres;
  • Introductory level: this certification will increase understanding of lifesaving skills;
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Ability to find solutions to various problems while developing individual and group decision-making abilities;
    • Personal water safety skills;
    • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques and Aqua Bon® practices.
  • Certification is valid for life and recognized across Canada.

Bronze Medallion

  • Prerequisite: minimum age of 13 OR hold Bronze Star certification;
  • Assistant lifeguard level: this certification will enable you to work as an assistant lifeguard in a public pool as of age 15;
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Four components of water-rescue education: fitness, judgement, knowledge and skill;
    • Develop the competencies required to ensure the safety of swimmers in public swimming pools or to respond in everyday emergency situations.
  • Certification is valid for life and recognized across Canada. Individuals who wish to work as an assistant lifeguard must be recertified every two years (if Bronze Medallion is the highest level achieved).

Bronze Cross

  • Prerequisite: Bronze Medallion certification;
  • Assistant lifeguard level: this certification will enable you to work as an assistant lifeguard in a public pool as of age 15, and on a beach as of age 16.
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Participants will further develop the skills acquired in the Bronze Medallion program;
    • The program focuses on aquatic skills, First Aid, as well as recognition and rescue.
  • Certification is valid for life and recognized across Canada. Individuals who wish to work as an assistant lifeguard must be recertified every two years (if Bronze Cross is the highest level achieved).

National Lifeguard

  • Prerequisites: Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid certifications, and must be at least 16 years old for the final exam;
  • Lifeguard level: this certification enables individuals aged 17 and up to work as a lifeguard at a pool or as an assistant lifeguard at a beach;
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Fundamentals of supervision in various aquatic settings: theory and practice lifeguarding, communication, rescuing victims and recognizing potential victims;
    • Decision-making skills, evaluation and ability to adapt to different situations and emergencies that may occur in aquatic settings.
  • Certification is valid for two years if used for work purposes, or four years if not employed as a lifeguard.

National Lifeguard Recertification

Lifeguards who wish to continue working in an aquatic facility must have their National Lifeguard certification updated every two years by taking the recertification exam, which lasts last 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Lifesaving Instructor

  • Prerequisite:
    • 28-hour course: must hold current National Lifeguard certification and be 16 years old;
    • 34-hour course: must hold current Bronze Cross certification and be 16 years old.
  • Lifesaving Instructor level: this certification enables individuals who complete the training to teach rescue principles and techniques to participants receiving lifeguard training.
  • Learning outcomes:
    • Instructional strategies and factors that influence learning;
    • Teaching and assessment of lifeguarding skills and techniques, as well as CPR and First Aid techniques.
  • Certification is valid for two years if used for work purposes, or four years to maintain their Lifesaving Instructor file active.

YMCA Swim Instructor

  • Prerequisites: Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid certifications, swim strokes at YMCA Intermediate standards, and must be at least 16 years old;
  • YMCA Swim Instructor level: this certification enables the successful candidates to deliver the YMCA value-based swimming skills and strokes, creating a positive learning environment and fostering healthy child development;
  • Learning outcomes:
    • To prepare YMCA Swim Instructor candidates to effectively teach people how to swim and improve their swimming techniques;
    • To learn how to plan for and create positive participant experiences
    • To learn communication skills such as giving and receiving feedback; planning and organizing skills (prioritizing and setting goals); and insight on maintaining quality standards
  • Certification is renewable every two years through continuing education workshops and recertification clinics