This course is designed to train and prepare individuals for the responsibilities of being a professional lifeguard. The YMCA LIFEGUARD CERTIFICATION course is a comprehensive program covering a wide range of skills and topics such as: safety and survival techniques, accident prevention, guarding techniques, emergency systems, rescue skills, first aid in aquatic environments, spinal injury management, weather and open water dangers, legal responsibilities, pool management and tips on seeking a job in aquatics.

The Buckeye Valley Family YMCA offers lifeguard classes throughout the year.


To complete the course successfully, you will be required to perform the following:

  • Demonstrate competency in each critical skill taught in the course; competency is defined as being able to perform each critical skill correctly and without guidance
  • Successfully complete CPR Pro for the Professional Rescuer (including AED), First Aid for the Community, and Emergency Oxygen Administration certifications
  • Successfully complete water tests and all scenarios
  • Pass all written exams with at least an 80% score. The YMCA Lifeguard exam requires an 80% score or better on each section of the exam to pass.
  • Pass each phase of the Physical Competency Requirements:

Phase 1

Must pass before proceeding to Phase 2

  • Tread water for 2 minutes (legs only)
  • Swim 100 yards of front crawl

Phase 2

Must pass before proceeding to Phase 3

  • Swim 50 yards of each:
    1. Front crawl with the head up
    2. Sidestroke3. Breaststroke
    4. Breaststroke with the head up
    5. Elementary backstroke kick with hands on the chest
  • Perform a feetfirst surface dive in 8 to 10 feet of water (or maximum depth of training facility). Then swim underwater for 15 feet.

Phase 3

Participants will start in the water at the shallow end and perform the following:

  • Sprint for a distance of approximately 60 feet and then perform an arm-over-arm surface dive in 8 to 10 feet of water (or maximum depth of training facility).
  • Pick up an object (dive ring) from the bottom of the pool, surface and tread water for at least 1 minute with legs only, and then replace the object back on the bottom of the pool where it was found.
  • Surface and swim the remaining length to the end of the pool and hoist yourself out of water without using a ladder or other assistance.
  • Immediately begin compression on an adult manikin for 1 minute or 100 compressions; stand and listen to directions from instructor.

You also must be able to accomplish these tasks:

  • Sit for extended periods of time in an elevated chair. A candidate must remain alert and focused on the entire zone of responsibility for extended periods of time, even under conditions of high heat and humidity, with no lapses in consciousness. Move safely to various locations, including entering and exiting an elevated chair, while scanning the zone of responsibility.
  • Communicate with others immediately when responding to an incident or an emergency. Candidates must be able to communicate verbally, including projecting their voice across distances; communicate swiftly and clearly with emergency personnel over the telephone and or in person; and effectively give and receive directions.
  • Hear noises and distress signals in the aquatic environment, including in the water and anywhere around the zone of responsibility. Candidates must understand that significant background noise exists in all indoor and outdoor aquatic environments. In addition, lifeguard candidates should have a minimum hearing threshold of no more than an average of a 25-decibel loss in both ears over a range of frequencies (500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, 788 and 3000Hz). Candidates who use hearing aids or other corrective devices for hearing should be able to perform all rescue skills and emergency procedures without interruptions to adjust, retrieve or install or attach hearing aid/corrective device. Remain alert with no lapses of consciousness.
  • Observe all sections of an assigned zone or area of responsibility. Candidates who use corrective eyewear should be able to perform all rescue skills and emergency procedures without interruptions to adjust, clear, or retrieve corrective eyewear.
  • Perform all rescue, resuscitation, and survival skills. Candidates must be able to perform basic first aid such as manual suction, use a bag-valve mask resuscitator, administer emergency oxygen, use an AED (automated external defibrillator), and perform professional rescuer CPR.
  • Think in the abstract, solve problems, make quick decisions, instruct, evaluate, supervise, and recognize the potential for danger or injury.
  • Have adequate memory skills and be able to retain and apply the knowledge learned in lifeguard training.
  • Act swiftly in an emergency and take action even when unsure whether a person is really in danger.

By enrolling in this course you are attesting that you can perform all of the above tasks.

In addition, you must complete all eLearning assignments and turn in all eLearning certificates according to the schedule set by your instructor. The total eLearning time is 8-1/2 hours. Total lifeguard class hours (including eLearning) is about 36 hours.



The Y believes that preventing an accident and saving a life is worth the hours of training and dedication essential to becoming a competent lifeguard. YMCA-certified lifeguards have a serious responsibility to prevent accidents and handle emergencies properly. It is imperative that lifeguards and aquatic safety assistants are physically trained, mentally alert, and have the maturity to safely guard an aquatic area.

We expect you to demonstrate your maturity at all times during classroom and pool instruction by:

  • Participating in ALL class, pool, and practice sessions
  • Arriving promptly and prepared with a picture ID or other proof of age
  • Presenting a positive attitude and courteous class conduct
  • Making an appointment with the instructor when you have difficulty understanding the material presented or if you have specific testing needs

The following prerequisites must be met prior to attending the course:

  • Minimum age: 16 years old by the last day of the scheduled course
  • Under the age of 18 must have parental consent to participate in the course

Completing the course does not guarantee certification or employment.
Upon successful completion of the course, you will receive YMCA Lifeguard certification. YMCA Lifeguard, Basic First Aid for the Community and Emergency Oxygen Administration is valid for two years. CPR Pro for the Professional Rescuer, is valid for one year.