Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

Water Safety Awards

All Awards

The Swim England Water Safety Awards are ideal for children who are taking part in the core Learn to Swim Stages 1-7 of the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme.

There are three Water Safety Awards teaching water danger awareness, self-rescue techniques and vital survival skills in clothes, without swimming goggles.

The Water Safety Awards have been developed in partnership with Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSS UK).

They are a must for any parent to consider for their child.

The Water Safety Awards are:

Water Safety 1 Award
During this Award your child will learn basic water safety awareness and survival techniques such as floating, treading water and submerging and resurfacing, without goggles.
Water Safety 2 Award
This Award introduces swimming in clothes, the key water safety messages from RNLI and RLSS, and essential personal survival techniques such as the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP).
Water Safety 3 Award
On completing this third and final Water Safety Award your child will fully understand how to perform safe self-rescue in different open and pool-based water situations, and what to do if they fall into water unexpectedly.

Heard of Swim Safe? Free water safety sessions for all 7–14 year olds at beaches and lakes across England every summer. Find out more about Swim Safe

As with other Swim England Awards, each of the Water Safety Awards has a number of skills (outcomes) that must be completed before your child is awarded their certificate, cloth badge and optional pin badge by their swimming teacher. These are listed below:

Water Safety 1 Award
The outcomes of this Award should be performed in shoulder-depth water, without goggles and in regular swimwear.

  1. Perform a swivel entry.
  2. Jump in and immediately rotate 180 degrees to travel back to the side.
  3. Float on the back for 30 seconds.
  4. Fully submerge, exhale and resurface.
  5. Log roll from floating on the front to floating on the back.
  6. Tread water in an upright position for 10 seconds without floatation equipment.
  7. Perform a signal for help on the back, whilst holding onto floatation equipment.
  8. Exit the water safely without support.
  9. Show an understanding of water safety.

Water Safety 2 Award
The outcomes of this Award should be performed in water of at least full reach depth, without goggles and light clothing (shorts and t-shirt).

  1. Perform a fall in entry.
  2. Float on the back for 60 seconds without floatation equipment and explain why this is important.
  3. Tread water for 30 seconds without floatation equipment.
  4. Perform a rotation of 360 degrees whilst treading water without floatation equipment.
  5. Signal for help whilst treading water without floatation equipment.
  6. Swim on the front for 10 metres, log roll onto the back and then rest for 60 seconds; return to an upright position to tread water.
  7. Swim 10 metres on the front, log roll and swim 10 metres on the back to a floating object.
  8. Swim for 10 metres towards the side of the pool using long arm front paddle (survival stroke).
  9. Fully submerge to the pool floor; rhythmically bounce from the pool floor to the surface to take a breath; re-submerge. Repeat four times.
  10. Demonstrate the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP) with a floating object.
  11. Climb out from the side, without using the steps.
  12. Recite and show understanding of the four key water safety messages.

Water Safety 3 Award

The outcomes of this Award should be performed in water of at least full reach depth, without goggles and in full length clothing (trousers/long sleeved top).

  1. Perform a straddle entry.
  2. Complete a circuit of submerging and resurfacing under or through objects and collecting an object from floor. The circuit must include at least one head first and one feet first surface dive.
  3. Tread water for two minutes without floatation equipment rotating 360 degrees once.
  4. Float for 90 seconds, without floatation equipment with minimal movement in simulated rough/moving water.
  5. Swim a distance of 200 metres.
  6. Swim 50 metres using a recognisable stroke to a floating object then stop in deep water and signal for help.
  7. Perform the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP) for three minutes with a life jacket/Personal Floatation Device (PFD).
  8. Perform the Huddle Position with at least three other participants without floatation equipment; rotate and signal for help.
  9. Climb out from the side, without using the steps or rail or any other assistance.
  10. Perform a shout and signal rescue.
  11. Share at least three facts about the effects of cold water shock and show understanding of how to manage its effects.
  12. Give two examples of local hazards and how to minimise risks when around them.

What next?
After completing the Water Safety Awards, your child could move onto the Rookie Lifeguard Awards where they will develop lifesaving skills needed to become a lifeguard.