National Lifeguard (NLS) Recertifications – What to Expect

The purpose of an NLS Recertification is to reconfirm that National Lifeguards can perform at the NLS standard.  A recertification exam takes approximately 4 hours.  Evaluation is pass or fail. 

*The information below is contains only the Item Description. It does not contain the Must See’s for each item.  Please consult the National Lifeguard Award Guide for more information on National Lifeguard items. (available for purchase at the Branch office)

National Lifeguard Pool Option - Recertification Items:

The following items are evaluated in a Pool NLS recert by a National Lifeguard Examiner(s).  Recertification candidates must successfully perform each of the following items:

Item 6b Object Recovery - Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and strength for an object recovery: Starting in the water, swim 15 m and surface dive to recover a 9 kg (20 lb.) object; surface and carry the object 5 m – all within 40 sec.

Item 6c Sprint challenge - Demonstrate anaerobic fitness: Starting in the water, swim 50 m within 60 sec. (50 yd. within 55 sec.). Candidate may sprint head-up or head-in.

Item 6d Endurance challenge - Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 m within 10 min. (400 yd. within 9:10 min.).

Item 8b Scanning and Observation - Demonstrate effective lifeguard scanning techniques and observation skills in the pool environment.

Item 11a Management of distressed or drowning victim - Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water with and without an aid.

Item 11b Management of submerged, non-breathing victim - Demonstrate effective management of a submerged, non-breathing victim and perform 10 cycles of 2 ventilations: 30 compressions on a CPR manikin.

Item 11d – Management of an injured victim - Demonstrate effective management of an injured victim on land or in the water.

Item 12a Lifeguarding situations – As a single lifeguard, respond to a situation in a supervised aquatic setting with one auxiliary staff member.

Item 12b Lifeguard team situations - As a member of a lifeguard team, respond to situations in a supervised aquatic setting.

**Please contact the Branch Office for items evaluated in a Water Park, Waterfront, or Surf NLS recert.


Tips to help you prepare for your National Lifeguard Recertification

  1. Get into the pool and practice your physical items plus your skills such as spinal rolls and removals.
  2. Review your first aids skills including recognition of signs and symptoms and treatment (examples: nosebleeds, CPR, heart attack, anaphylaxis, etc.)
  3. Review your lifeguarding skills such as scanning and recognition.  
  4. Be aware of the items you will be evaluated on (see above “NLS Recertification Items”)
  5. Practice with a fellow lifeguard(s).
  6. Review the Alert: Lifeguarding in Action manual from the NLS course as well as your first aid manual.
  7. Regularly attend lifeguard inservices at your place of employment

Frequently Asked Questions about NLS Recertifications

Q: If my National Lifeguard award has expired, can I still recertify?

A: As long as you have held the National Lifeguard award and have proof of certification (see above), you are eligible for a recertification. If a significant length of time has passed since your last recertification or award (e.g. 5 years), you may find a recertification challenging.  Re-taking the course in its entirety may be the best option in this case but is not required.

 Q: My last recertification was two years ago and I am now taking a year off to travel.  Can I get an extension on the expiry date of my National Lifeguard award from the Lifesaving Society?

A: The Lifesaving Society does not provide extensions on its awards.  As long as you are not actively working as a lifeguard, you need not worry about your award being expired.  Before you return to work as a lifeguard, ensure you have attended and passed an NLS recert. 

Q: Do I have to recertify my NLS award every two years? 

A: Yes, the NLS award must be recertified every two years if you are working as a lifeguard.

 Q: Where do I find out where NLS Recertifications are being offered in the province?

A: Check out our Upcoming Courses section on our website under NLS recerts.  The majority of pools advertise their courses here.  Alternatively, you can call to the nearest pool to you to ask if they are running an NLS recert.

Q: What if I fail my NLS recert?  Do I have to take the whole NLS course over? 

A: No, you do not have to take the whole course over.  Use the feedback provided by the NLS Examiner on your performance to assist you in preparing for another NLS recert.  Do some self-study/practice and then enroll in another NLS recert.

Q: Where can I find an NLS Recert?

A: Recertifications are run by our affiliates throughout the year and you can find some of them listed on our Upcoming Courses Page