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Lifesaving, Leadership and First Aid


Becoming a Lifeguard or Swimming Instructor

Clarington offers courses for individuals interested in becoming a lifeguard and swimming instructor or for those interested in enhancing their water safety knowledge and basic lifesaving/first aid skills in various aquatic environments.

Path to become a Lifeguard

Bronze Star
Ages 10-12 years
Get a head start by taking Bronze Star! This program is excellent preparation for success in Bronze Medallion by working on swimming skills, physical fitness and rescues.
Bronze Medallion & Emergency First Aid
Prerequisite: Ages 13 years + or completed Bronze Star
This is a prerequisite for all advanced lifesaving programs. Physical fitness, decision making and judgement skills are developed in order to prepare candidates for rescues of greater risk. Provides knowledge and skills to care for the ABC's of life. Exam on the 11th week of class. Certification fee included. Materials extra.
Bronze Cross
Prerequisite: Bronze Medallion & Emergency First Aid
This is a prerequisite for Clarington's Assistant Lifeguard positions, all advanced instructor programs and for NLS. Focus on principles of emergency procedures, deep water spinal injury management, team work and use of special equipment. Exam on the 11th week of class. Certification fee included.
Standard First Aid and CPR C
This course is for both the general public and all NLS candidates.
Standard First Aid provides comprehensive training covering all aspects of first aid and CPR level C (adult, child, infant, two rescuer). This Lifesaving Society first aid program is recognized by Ontario's Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB). Materials and certification fee included.
National Lifeguard Service (NLS)

Prerequisites: Age 16 years, Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid
This NLS certification is the industry accepted standard for lifeguards in Canada. Training provided in this course is designed to develop the basic lifeguarding skills, principles and decision-making processes which will assist the lifeguard to evaluate and adapt to different aquatic facilities and emergencies. Candidates work in a team environment allowing them to develop leadership and communication skills. Physical fitness is a basic component of the program. Standard First Aid prerequisite must be from Lifesaving Society, Canadian Red Cross or St. John's Ambulance. No exceptions. Materials and certification fee included.

For fees and course dates, see the Recreation and Leisure Guide or visit to register.

Path to become a Swimming Instructor

Here's what's new and what candidates need to know!

The new Red Cross WSI program is designed to provide candidates with the proper knowledge and skills to teach swimming and water safety while promoting water-safe attitudes in, on, and around the water. This program provides candidates with instructional knowledge and theories on topics including teaching methods, learning styles, swimming skills, communication, safety supervision, injury prevention, and feedback. The program includes 4 steps for completion: Step 1: Skills Evaluation, Step 2: Online, Step 3: Teaching Experience, and Step 4: Classroom and Pool. 

Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI)

As of January 1, 2016, candidates will become certified under a new 4 step model.

Step 1: Skills Evaluation
Prerequisites: Age 15 and Bronze Cross
The skills evaluation ensures candidates have the necessary water safety skills, strokes, and Instructor Emergency Response (I.E.R.) skills equivalent to the Red Cross Swim Kids 10 performance criteria. This session includes both practice and evaluation time.
Step 2: Online
One of the most significant aspects of the revised program will be the transition of in-person learning to combined online and in-person training. This new approach allows the learner to learn at his or her own speed--focusing on what is important and how it connects to them--online before arriving at the pool.
Step 3: Teaching Experience
The teaching experience takes place following the online learning and prior to the in-person component. Candidates have first-hand experience observing real progressions and swimmer skills with a mix of personalities in the same class.
Step 4: Classroom and Pool
This is the final step in the Red Cross Instructor certification. This component follows the teaching experience and furthers instructional ability by focusing on how to effectively plan, teach, and evaluate the Red Cross Swim Programs. This is where we consolidate candidates' knowledge and experience from the online and teaching experience components so they are ready to take on their first Red Cross Swim This component includes 9 hours classroom and 12 hours pool time.
Lifesaving Society Instructor (LSI)
Prerequisites: Age 16 years, Bronze Cross
Upon completion of this program, candidates will be able to instruct the awards of the Lifesaving program (Canadian Swim Patrol program, Bronze Medal Awards, Wading Pool Attendant, Lifesaving Fitness and Distinction). Materials and certification fee included.

New Red Cross Instructor Development Program Frequently Asked Questions

Why has the Red Cross Instructor Development Program changed?
In 2010, Red Cross began researching other models of learning. In 2012, they conducted a survey and interviews with key stakeholders regarding the process. The results identified changes needed to the current model to ensure candidates were performing at a high standard and possessed the skills needed to successfully transfer the learning to teaching water safety programs. A committee was formed by Red Cross in 2013 to work on revisions, including a "Flipped Classroom" approach to allow candidates to learn at their own pace and complete modules online before building with the in-person component allowing them to apply this knowledge. In 2015, Red Cross announced to their training partners (ex. Clarington) that there would be revisions to the program that would need to be applied in winter of 2016. As of August 2015, new course content was shared and program details confirmed.
Does this change only affect Clarington courses?
No. This is a nationwide program change. All Training partners must launch the new program as of January 1, 2016. The Durham Region Aquatic Group has met since the changes were announced and all are making revisions for winter 2016 as well. Each province/municipality may run the programs slightly different; however, all will be making the change to remove the Assistant Water Safety Instructor course and to adopt the new Instructor Development Program with the four components.
How do I become a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor under the new program?
There are 4 components needed to become certified. The process begins with a Skills Evaluation (6-6.5 hours). If successful, you move on to work through the Online Portion (self-lead 14-20 hours depending on pace of work). After completing the online portion candidates begin Volunteer hours (minimum of 8 hours over the course of a full session). The last stage is the Classroom and Pool portion (21 hours). Each module builds on the previous one and they must be completed in sequence.
What do I need to bring to Step 1: Skills Evaluation?

The Skills Evaluation involves practice time as well as evaluation time of the following: Ability to perform Red Cross Swim Kids 10 Strokes and Skills, and Emergency response skills associated with one of the following certifications (not required to be current); Bronze Cross, Emergency or Standard First Aid.

Candidates must bring a bathing suit, towel, proof of age & certification, whistle, snack and water.

Please note, if candidates are successful they will be able to register for the Step 2: Online portion at the customer service desk and will need to bring a payment method for the $140 (plus tax) Red Cross Package. This packages includes Water Safety Instructor Workbook, Red Cross Swim Deck Book, PIN and Password for Step 2: Online.

Successful candidates will need to be prepared to stay for a brief classroom orientation of "Next Steps."

What if I am unsuccessful in the Step 1: Skills Evaluation component?
If you are unsuccessful, you will receive a Red Cross comment card listing the areas needing improvement. You will then need to practice and attend another Skills Evaluation Session. Private lessons, where available, can be booked to assist those individuals who want instructor-lead assistance.
How do I access Step 2: Online portion of the course?
After successfully completing the Skills Evaluation component, candidates may purchase the Red Cross package for $140 at our reception desk. This package includes the Online PIN and Password. Once completed, candidates will need to print the certificate of completion and take to the Water Safety Instructor Classroom & Pool session. Red Cross provides the support for any online problems.
How long is my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certification valid for after I complete the whole process?
The certification will be valid for 1 year. Prior to the expiry, the candidates will have to complete 3 water safety instructor online professional development modules. After completing these credits, it extends the certification to 2 years. After that, the certification must be recertified every 2 years.
Why is the Red Cross Water Safety Instructor course and the Lifesaving Society Instructor course no longer being offered together?
With the significant changes to the Red Cross Water Safety Instructor course and different age prerequisites under the new program (Red Cross age 15 years and Lifesaving Society age 16 years), it is best to offer both programs separately.
Who can I contact if I have more questions about this process?

You may contact Katelyn Aucoin, Acting Aquatic Coordinator at 905-623-3379 ext. 2542.

Or, for program revision explanations or online questions, contact Red Cross at

Program Registration

For more information, see the Lifesaving, Leadership and First Aid page in the current Recreation and Leisure Guide.

First aid

Do you know what to do in an emergency? Do you want to enhance your existing first aid knowledge? Take first aid! Our standard first aid program provides comprehensive training, covering all aspects of first aid, including CPR-C.

Ontario's Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) recognizes this program.

Standard First Aid certification is a prerequisite for anyone taking NLS (National Lifeguard).

For fees and course dates, see the Recreation and Leisure Guide or visit to register.

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