Water Safety Ireland Technical Updates

Our activities are subject to change due to Covid-19. For the most up to date news and information about the impacts on water safety, visit our Covid-19 Information Hub.

5 August 2020

WSI Returning to Water Safety document:

This document was reviewed.

Recommendations to council:

Recommendation 1: All members of WSI should complete the Sport Ireland COVID-19 Return to Sport and Physical Activity (Part A) e-course prior to returning to their classes to teach.

Recommendation 2: As per WSI Returning to Water Safely Plan – each WSAC must appoint an assigned COVID Compliance Officer responsible for managing issues and queries relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the protocols are followed. Further to this, the COVID Compliance Officer in HQ and in each WSAC should complete the Sport Ireland COVID-19 Return to Sport and Physical Activity (Parts A & B).

Recommendation 3: Just in time application form has been updated.

Recommendation 4: WSI COVID-19 Return to Water Safety form must be filled out before they can resume teaching. (WSAC Secretaries to monitor and store forms.

Recommendation 5: Water Safety and Lifeguard syllabi will be adapted so courses can resume during COVID-19 period.

2 July 2020

  • Sport’s Commission met and have produced a document” Return to lifesaving sport”. WSAC’s who wish to resume training for Surf Lifesaving has to submit SOP & other documents to the Sports commission for approval before training can resume. These have been integrated into the document “Returning to Water Safety”.
  • It was agreed that the ILS algorithm should be added to our Lifeguard Training portal along with our video / power point and handout document
  • The Sports commission are extending the date to the end of September for those counties to have new Level 1 coaches in charge. The ratio 16:1 still applies.

Recommendations to council:

(1)         Lifeguard commission concerning Pool Lifeguard:

(a)         All theory and related worksheets can be delivered and complete on line.

(b)         We recommend that for the period of the COVID-19 crisis or at latest the end of December 2020, a candidate on a WSI national Pool Lifeguard course who holds an in-date PHECC First Aid Responder(FAR) or Cardiac First Responder (CFR) certificate along with completing the WSI Oxygen Administration Module on the course will be deemed as having satisfactorily completed the WSI National Pool Lifeguard BLS module.

(c)          We recommend that for the period of this COVID-19 crisis only that simple rescues and evasive actions can be demonstrated on land for training and examination purposes

(2)         When a RED flag is flying on a beach, surf boards should not be rented out.

(3)         Vat Inspections – Recommendation: – that for the purposes of vat exemption for this year that 9 declared stations would be signed off based on their shore inspection for 2020. (GK to check no. of stations) This is a once off amendment for 2020 only due to COVID-19 and also to facilitate further work with IRCG on a possible joint inspection process.

(4)         Swimming Commission recognises swimming teaching courses can be adapted for on-line learning but needs to be assessed on a case by case basis, the practical element of the courses should be completed in a pool setting as normal. Applications should be made to the swimming commission outlining the resources available to them.

1 May 2020

CPD for Lifeguards in the use of BVM ventilation mask :

  1. A 3 page document was produced on the use of BVM mask.
  2. Video on the use of BVM ventilation mask and filter was produced.
  3. Power point presentation on the use of BVM ventilation mask and filter was produced

Because of COVID-19 all WSI Beach Lifeguards whose qualifications expire and need to be re-validated during the “lockdown” will be given a once off extension to their WSI National Beach Lifeguard qualification which will extend up to the end of September 2020.

Local Authority fitness test for 2020 Beach Lifeguards instead of the LA pool test because of pools been closed. (on WSI website)

Local Authority fitness test for 2020 Inland Open Water Lifeguards instead of the LA pool test because of pools been closed. (on WSI website)

Examiners conference has been cancelled for 2020.

For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, in the event of swimming classes not been available for exams, course candidates can act as the class for the purpose of the practical examination. (This will cease as a practice once normal classes return).

National Pool Lifeguard Level 2 test item 1 to read:

  • Assessment criteria:
  • Swim 50M Front Crawl in less than 60 sec. with the head above the water.
  • Swim 50M Breast Stroke head up & 50M combination of rescue strokes. (not timed)
  • Swim 25M underwater, retrieve 3 objects placed 5m apart from the deepest end of the pool. Candidate should surface after finding 1st object, show to assessor and drop for the next candidate. Repeat for object 2&3. Goggles can be worn for underwater search.
  • WSI National Pool Lifeguard Level 2 Revalidation test item 1 to have the following added to the fitness test.
  • Candidate must show ability to surface dive in deepest part of the pool and pick up submerged object  (min dept 1.5m – max dept 2m)
  • Goggles can be worn for the underwater dive.

WSI National Pool Lifeguard Level 2 Revalidation test item 1 to have the following added to the fitness test.

  • Candidate must show ability to surface dive in deepest part of the pool and pick up submerged object  (min dept 1.5m – max dept 2m)
  • Goggles can be worn for the underwater dive.

20 March 2020 (Updated 1 May 2020)

Recommendation 1:

With regard to the current COVID-19 crisis the Lifeguard Commission Recommends that all WSI Beach Lifeguards whose qualifications expire and need to be re-validated during this current “COVID-19 lockdown” will be given a once off extension to their WSI National Beach Lifeguard Qualification which will extend up to the end of September 2020.

Recommendation 2:

With regard to the current COVID-19 crisis the Lifeguard Commission Recommends that all Pool Lifeguards whose qualifications expire during this current “COVID-19 lockdown” period will be given a once off extension to their WSI National Pool Lifeguard Qualification which will extend up to the end of December 2020.

Recommendation 3:

With regard to the current COVID-19 crisis, the Lifeguard Commission recommends the cancellation of the Local Authority  Beach Lifeguard (Pool) Test for 2020 only and recommends that the Local Authorities have WSI Examiners (who are also Beach Lifeguard Tutors) run a Fitness Test for the prospective Beach Lifeguards in the sea on the weekend before they start.  The LA Test “Timed Swim & Tow with Can buoy/Rescue Tube” is to be included in this fitness test.

6 March 2020

Re: Corvid 19 (Coronavirus) and the current teaching of BLS on manikins

This is an urgent notice arising from medical advice received within Water Safety Ireland.

As and from today, any person teaching BLS and using manikins should note the following:

Until further notice, there is to be no more breathing into manikins. Instead, this should be replaced with SIMULATED breathing into manikins (say “one breath”, “two breaths”, etc). Good hand washing and wiping of manikin surfaces with disinfectant wipes is very important. Those with flu-like symptoms should exclude themselves from classes.

Thank you for your cooperation and best wishes with your respective classes.

11 December 2019

The Swim Teacher Award of Water Safety Ireland (WSI) and that of the Swimming Teachers Association (STA) are equivalent to each other.

11 December 2019

Revised fees for Water Safety Awareness courses: As a result of the Covid-19 emergency situation, the following fees have been deferred until further notice.

Course TypeWasAgreed
Lifeguard Course€30€50
Swim Teacher Course€30€50
Assistant Swim Teacher Course€25€50
Surf Rescue Boat Course€30€30
Swim Teacher Tutor€0€50
PHECC Upskill€10€10
Water Safety Awareness€20€30
Risk Assessor Course (student currently pays €80)€0€20
Assistant Coach (AS/T)New€10
Level 1 CoachNew€10

23 September 2019

Recommend that ratio of tutor to pupil for National Beach Lifeguard Award 12:1

1 February 2018

IWS Basic Life Support Syllabi format change – February 2018

Information for Instructors and Examiners

The IWS BLS awards have been realigned towards the Student Handbook of the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) Cardiac First Response Community Award

PHECC is the independent statutory agency with responsibility for standards, education and training in the field of pre-hospital emergency care.

IWS Instructors will see that the biggest change is the removal of complex theory across all three BLS award levels. Both international and national best practice for lay responders is about recognising cardiac arrest and starting the chain of survival with CPR and alerting Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

On average 5,000 people die each year in Ireland from an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

On average 80% 4,000 of these cardiac arrests take place at home.

The PHECC CFR Student Handbook provides all the theory that is required for BLS 1-3 and the CFR Community Award.

WSAC / Instructors should arrange that every student gets a handbook, by any possible means (but not through photocopying)

Students should be encouraged to bring the handbook home and discuss what they are learning

These Changes to the BLS Syllabi come into effect from 1st February 2018

Instructors will have 3 months up to end of April 2018 to familiarise themselves with and change over to the new BLS Awards format.

BLS Syllabus 2018 (PDF)

18 September 2017

Rescue Commission

Recommendations to Council

  • CRBI meeting has been arranged.
  • Search and rescue- Objective & Strategic review (this is a big project and will be ongoing for some time.
  • Ring Buoy holder is been looked at by a subcommittee.

Swimming Commission

  • Any queries concerning Disability course need to be referred to Swimming commission
  • Disability swimming teacher manuals will be kept in stock
  • New logbooks will be used for all future swimming teacher courses (old logbooks to be discontinued)

Sports Commission

Great success at the European Championships.

  • 29 medals – 7 Gold, 15 Silver and 7 Bronze


  • Triathlon Ireland should contact local area who run summer weeks and winter programs.
  • Scouting Ireland and IWS is developing a lifesaving program

15 March 2016

Transferring from another Lifesaving/Swimming organisation to IWS.  The following  are necessary:

  • A Relevant C.V
  • An up-to-date copy of relevant Certificate
  • Knowledge of the IWS Syllabus
  • Evidence of up-to-date CPD (minimum of 2 relevant seminars as outlined in the IWS syllabus within a five year period) to be forwarded to the Swimming Commission.
  • The Swimming/Lifesaving/Lifeguarding Commission (as appropriate) will then carry out a needs analysis to identify where there are differences with the IWS qualification.

The applicant must then undertake an update seminar and /or some practical teaching with a suitably qualified IWS member, to ensure the application is fully in adherence with IWS standards

1 April 2015

  1. ILS position statement (lightning policy) (www.ilsf.org/about/position-statements) LPS – 16 lightning. That IWS adopt the ILS – Lifesaving Position Statement above.
  2. Criteria for transferring from another Life Saving organisation to IWS.This person:Should familiarise themselves with the Rules & Regulations of IWS
    Purchase IWS Instructor pack
    Must attend an assimilation course (organised and run by an IWS Examiner)
    Must be capable of demonstrating all grips and releases as specified by IWS
  3. The Sports Commission is to develop a High Performance Squad.
  4. IWS will place a bid to Host Junior & Masters European (2019) (bidding documents available from April 2015)
  5. That a trainee Examiners course is run in Galway, commencing winter 2015 and to finish in spring 2016
  6. That IWS would nominate Mathew Sills for the Dr. Ian Mackie Medical Fellowship.
  7. IWS to establish a 3rd level Working Group who would report to the Technical Committee

3 December 2014

Sports Commission

Council agreed the following recommendations:

That an International Referees B Course is to be run in 2015 and to ask that Frans Kenis assist.
That it be clarified that Nipper board cannot be made of epoxy or carbon fibre and that soft boards or soft top/plastic bottom boards are only to be used in Nipper Competitions.
That a certificate be introduced in 2015 to compliment the current Introduction to Coaching Level 1.
Council agreed in principle that IWS can appoint an independent medical assessor when a National Team member is in question regarding their fitness to compete.  The issue is referred to the Technical Committee for rewording.

Lifeguard/Lifesaving Commission

ILS wording changed on the ILS Equivalency table for Lifeguard awards from ‘Pool LG’ and ‘Beach LG to IWS National Pool Lifeguard Award and IWS National Beach Lifeguard Award.

Swimming Commission

To include teaching at open water venues as part of the AST award.
Develop Teaching at Open Water Venues as a separate module which can be offered as an extra to all holders of a full Swimming Teachers Awards. This will be developed and delivered by IWS.

Set up a separate Commission / sub group to further develop and market the IWS Disabilities awards. Membership of this group should include staff members of various third level ITs nationally.

8 October 2014

Update to BLS page Test Item 4: 

“Demonstrate effective skills to administer one operator, Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (Child and Infant)”

That the Test Item “Demonstrate effective skills to administer one operator, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (child and infant)” be added to the BLS 3 Syllabus

13 August 2014

That high visibility Lycra vests be introduced for open water races to make competitors easier to identify for safety purposes.  The concept will be introduced at the Open Water Nationals 2014 and to be mandatory from 2015 onwards.

That all county teams should also wear the IWS logo.

That in the event that a private risk assessment is requested, the base fee should be €500 which will include T&S.

2 April 2014

Council agreed that the CFR Community Certificate will have a fee of €15 per candidate.

Council agreed that any aquatic amenity made available by a Local Authority to the public should be risk assessed.

2 October 2013

Council agreed the following should become a rule of IWS Child Protection Practice:

No direct contact should be made with any child in relation to IWS business after 9pm, by text, phonw, email, social media or otherwise. In cases of genuine urgency, which should be rare, contact should be nmade via the parents.

14 August 2013

Council approved the proposed prerequisites for PAWS provider course candidates.

Minimum – Instructor and Assistant Swim Teacher qualification, membership of IWS, Swim Ireland or RLSS.

Desirable – In addition to the minimum, a full Swim Teacher qualification, fluency in Gaeilge and an ability to deliver the PAWS programme as Gaeilge.

12 June 2013

New age prerequisites for IWS Awards are to be made part of and introduced with the new IWS syllabus.

12 June 2013

The new BLS Examination Syllabus is to be introduced with the new IWS Syllabus.

12 June 2013

Council agreed that Examiners/Instructors who do not attend upcoming IWS seminars on Basic Life Support be excluded from examining or instructing until they have up-skilled in this area with effect from the 1/01/14.

12 June 2013

Council discussed Junior Membership and agreed the following:
A. Council approved the draft Application Form for Junior Membership with minor amendments. Junior membership can be used up to age 18. Use can begin with the winter programme starting September 2013.
B. Council approved in principle the proposed Parental Consent form for children’s classes.

10 April 2013

That IWS should publish all specialised courses on the IWS web site in advance.

10 April 2013

That the date for the WSAC seminar has been set for Sunday 28th April, 2013.

10 April 2013

An overall theme “WSAC Growth” is recommended.

10 April 2013

That a one day Instructors / Swim Tutors Seminar will be run by the Swimming Commission in line with the principles of CPD, in June 2013, at a central venue with possible access to a lake included. This will be open to all Instructors, Examiners, trainee instructors and Tutors on the IWS database. Central to the seminar will be knowledge of the “LISPA model”, now the accepted guidance philosophy for IWS. Other topics will include “Standardising Teaching” and “Use of IWS Resources”. Practical elements will be scheduled e.g. “Use of Rescue Boards” and “Use of Rescue Tubes” etc. The Chairman stated that number of participants on each course should be controlled and managed appropriately.

10 April 2013

That Tutors in collaboration with the external examiner will make the final assessment with regard to candidate assessment outcomes on all specialist awards courses.

10 April 2013

That all Inshore Rescue boats operating under IWS jurisdiction will not put to sea without a propeller guard and will ensure that the outboard engine kill cord and switch is functioning effectively.

10 April 2013

That when a new WSDO is appointed by a Local Authority and when the CEO has been notified of same he will in turn furnish the local WSAC with the relevant details of the new WSDO and vice-versa will furnish the WSDO with the relevant details of his/her local WSAC.

10 April 2013

That sight of pre requirement qualification (where applicable) must take place before a candidate can commence training on any IWS course.

10 April 2013

That an Information pack on JIT award scheme to be circulated by HQ to Garda Stations in line with recommendation from previous meeting.

10 April 2013

That a VAT inspection on CRBI Stations is not to be carried out unless there is a current yearly Annual Return of Service made from the previous year.

10 April 2013

That the cut-off date for accepting fully completed JIT applications from WSAC’s shall be the 15th of October each year.

10 April 2013

That the appeal by Mallow Search & Rescue in relation to their application for VAT inspection be turned down based on the relevant Statutory Instrument and the guidelines. The CEO is to write them to turn down the appeal.

10 April 2013

That the Chairman of the Technical Committee (of the time) be the appointed person for double checking that the selection procedure for National Lifesaving Teams was adhered to correctly. S. O’Neill is to amend the documentation.

10 April 2013

That the newly revised IWS syllabus be fully implemented from January 2014 with a lead in date from June 2013.

10 April 2013

A working group consisting of Brendan McGrath, Sharon Murphy, Martin O’Sullivan and Mary Foley (ILAM) is proposed for the development of the Swimming Pool Safety Check list.

10 April 2013

A working group will be set up to develop a standard Disabilities Awards Level 1 presentation, with specific terms of reference. Work will be done mainly by email and meetings kept to a minimum.

10 April 2013

IWS should seek equivalence of its BLG award with the ILS BLG award as soon as possible.

10 April 2013

Agree in principle to support the development of National Swim Teacher’s Award (NSTA) jointly certified by IWS and Swim Ireland.

6 February 2013

That the Trainee Risk Assessment Course be held on the weekend of March 22/23/24. Course Director is to be Martin O’Sullivan. Tutors Ronnie Horan and Martin O’Sullivan.

6 February 2013

That the Trainee Examiners Course be held on the weekend of April 20th and 21st . Aisling Cushen is to be the chief organiser. The location will be the West County Hotel or Clarion Hotel (TBA) The Course Director is Pauline Jordan. Other Tutors include Joan Morton Diarmuid O’Donnabhain Paul Murphy and Tom Doyle.

6 February 2013

The Tutor / Candidate ratio for all Assistant and Full Swim Teachers courses is to be 16:1.

6 February 2013

Include a recognised code of ethics as a pre-requisite to the Swimming Teachers Award.

3 October 2012

Council agreed that an Examiner’s course be held in Dublin in 2013 with 50% of the places reserved for Dublin candidates. Dublin WSAC will cover the costs of the course.

3 October 2012

That when private Lifeguard Courses are being run in a County/Area where a suitable qualified local Examiner is available, then that Examiner should carry out the examination.

3 October 2012

IWS website that Swim certificates will be phased out by 31st of December 2012.

3 October 2012

All lifeguard training will include AED and oxygen training as extra modules in 2013

6 June 2012

Lifesaving Awards: The Prerequisite age of 16 years for the IWS Rescue 4 Award is changed to 15 years as per the Rescue 3 Award.

6 June 2012

Sport: All surf lifesaving training takes place on a lifeguarded beach. Where lifeguards are off duty a lifeguard must be present for the training session.

6 June 2012

Sport: The surf swim event is changed to a run-swim-run for Junior and Youth as this is what U19’s race in, in both the Celtic Cup and European Junior Championships.

6 June 2012

Swimming: The Swimming Teachers Safety Award can be presented by all IWS Instructors, Examiners and all Swimming Tutors who have a current BLS qualification or higher. The award, must however, be examined by an IWS Examiner

6 June 2012

Swimming: The IWS Seal, Marlin and Orca range of swimming certificates can be awarded by any fully qualified Swimming Teacher or Water Safety Instructor.