Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Water Safety and Survival Awards

All Awards

Swim England Water Safety and Survival Awards are designed to offer a little peace of mind for parents and guardians in terms of children’s safety in the water.

Covering survival knowledge, awareness of dangers and vital life-saving information, the four Water Safety and Survival Awards are a must for any parent to consider for their child.

Heard of Swim Safe? Free improver swimming tuition and water safety sessions for all 7–14 year olds at beaches and lakes across England every summer. Click here to find out more about Swim Safe.

The Preliminary Safety Skills Award offers your children an introduction to water safety and is targeted at swimmers who no longer use floatation equipment.

The Personal Survival Awards are in two Awards. Personal Survival 1 complements Learn to Swim Stages 6-7, while Personal Survival 2 complements Learn to Swim Stages 8-10. They ensure learners know how to react if they find themselves in difficulty by testing them in role play situations.

Finally, a natural follow-on from the Personal Survival Awards, the Water Rescue Award teaches your children basic lifesaving techniques. A wider range of skills in this area can be gained by taking the Rookie Lifeguard Award.

Objectives of the Water Safety and Survival Awards

Note that no aids are allowed to be used throughout.

Preliminary Safety Skills Award

To pass this part of the Swim England Water Safety and Survival Awards learners must:

  1. Enter water with a swivel entry, walk five metres away from the side, turn through 180° and return to the side.
  2. Jump into shoulder depth water, turn to hold the side, travel hand over hand to the steps and climb out.
  3. Enter the water of at least full reach depth with a swivel entry and hold the side; remove both hands from the side and rotate through 360°, hold side and exit the water.
  4. Enter water of at least full reach depth with a swivel entry; hold the side with one hand; release the hand and tread water for 10 seconds; exit the water.
  5. Travel five metres on the front; rotate onto the back and kick five metres to the side.
  6. Travel five metres away from the side and without touching the bottom show a vertical position for three seconds before travelling back to the side.
  7. In shoulder depth water and without touching the side fully submerge the head showing confidence and control.

Personal Survival Awards objectives

Personal Survival 1
To pass this part of the Swim England Water Safety and Survival Awards learners have:

  1. To enter water of at least full reach depth from the side of the pool by sliding in from a sitting position.
  2. To tread water for two minutes.
  3. To swim 25 metres to a floating object.
  4. To take up and hold the ‘H.E.L.P.’ position for five minutes in water of at least full reach depth.
  5. To swim 50 metres retaining the floating object.
  6. To climb out from water of at least full reach depth without using the steps or rail or any other assistance.
  7. To answer three questions on when the skills learned might be used.

Personal Survival 2
To pass this part of the Swim England Water Safety and Survival Awards learners have:

  1. To enter water of at least full reach depth using a straddle entry.
  2. To tread water for two minutes with one arm out of the water (the raised hand to be above the head throughout, candidates may change arms twice throughout).
  3. To swim 25 metres to a floating object.
  4. To take up and hold the ‘H.E.L.P.’ position for six minutes.
  5. To participate in a ‘HUDDLE’ for two minutes using any floating object for support with at least two other similarly clothed swimmers who may be candidates.
  6. To swim 100 metres retaining a floating object.
  7. To climb out from water of at least full reach depth without using the steps or rail.
  8. To answer three questions on when the skills learned might be used.

Water Rescue Award objectives

By completing this Award, learners should be able to:

  1. From standing on the side throw a buoyant object e.g. a float or a ball to land into a hoop positioned 4 metres away. The swimmer must score a minimum of three successes from five attempts.
  2. From standing on the side throw a buoyant object e.g. a float or a ball to a person positioned in the water (minimum depth full reach depth* or 1.5 metres) 4 metres away. The buoyant object must land within easy reach of the person in the water. Encourage the person in the water to grab the buoyant object and to kick to the side.
  3. From lying on the side demonstrate a reaching rescue (casualty positioned 2 metres from the side in water of at least full reach depth* or 1.5 metres) using equipment which is available on the poolside.
  4. Respond appropriately to a staged incident involving two swimmers who are out of their depth and in difficulty. One swimmer is positioned 2 metres from the side and the other 5 metres from the side. Reaching and throwing equipment is available on the side of the pool. The task is complete when both swimmers are holding the side of the pool.
  5. Answer a minimum of six questions correctly on water safety.

* Full reach depth is the distance from feet to finger tips of hands reaching above the head.

Top