Surf lifesaving

Surf lifesaving

Surf lifesaving is a multifaceted movement that comprises key aspects of voluntary lifeguard services and competitive surf sport. Originating in early 20th century Australia, the movement has expanded globally to other countries including New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.cite web |url= |title= The Goto Guy |author= Derek Farrar |work= Hana Hou! Vol. 9, No. 6 (Dec 2006 / Jan 2007). photos by Dana Edmunds |quote= [T] he City and County of Honolulu’s Ocean Safety & Lifeguard Services Division … pioneered lifesaving technology now emulated around the world, most notably the development of jet ski surf rescues in the early 1990s. ]


Surf lifesaving originated in Australia in 1906 in response to drownings at local beaches in Sydney. Such groups became necessary following the relaxing of laws prohibiting daylight bathing on Australian beaches ["Surf Life Saving - Stories from Australia's Culture and Recreation Portal" [Online] , Commonwealth Government of Australia, 2006. Available at [] ] . Volunteer groups of men were trained in lifesaving methods and patrolled the beaches as lifeguards looking after public safety.

The original surf lifesaving club is a matter of contention between the Bronte and Bondi beach clubs in Sydney. Bronte Surf Life Saving Club claims to be the “First Surf Club in the World since 1903”. This is based on minutes of a meeting held in 1907 (found at the local library in 1982), which was noted to be the fourth AGM of the club, as well as a time capsule from 1931 (unearthed during renovations of the club house) in which documents record then President and Gen. Secretary of Surf Lifesaving Australia unanimously declaring Bronte to be the first club. The Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club also claims to be the “world’s first life saving club”. It was officially established on February 21, 1907 at the Royal Hotel in Bondi - as was recorded in the newspaper The East Sydney Argus, and in the Waverley Council Minutes acknowledging receipt of a letter from the newly formed group.

According to current evidence, it may therefore be correct to say Bronte was the 'first' club, but Bondi was the 'first official' club.

Whatever the original club, it is certain that on October 10, 1907 the Surf Bathing Association of NSW (SBANSW) was founded – with 9 clubs and affiliated associations.

Although, bude SLSC was the first Surf club to be formed in England in 1953 bu alan kennedy from Australia.

The [] (SLSA GB) was formed in 1955. Volunteer clubs patrolled beaches at Bude and St Agnes in Cornwall and Brighton, their aim to protect, rescue and resuscitate bathers.

Rescue services

Lifesavers are volunteers that typically patrol in groups under a patrol captain for a given period of time on weekend and public holidays under a roster system. In order to be a surf lifesaver a person must hold a Bronze Medallion or a Surf Rescue Certificate and pass an annual proficiency test. Lifesavers who are on patrol wear red and yellow cloth caps on the head. While not performing rescues they are also required to wear long-sleeve yellow shirts and red shorts to provide protection against the sun. Support Operations Lifesavers are required to wear the appropriate functional attire. This includes wetsuits for RWC (Rescue Water Craft) drivers, JRB/ORB (jet and offshore rescue boat) crew and high visibility tabards for Duty Officers who liase with other emergency services at major incidents. The crews of various Lifesaver helicopter services over the country wear appropriate aviation equipment. Each surf lifesaving club also has a competition cap with distinct colours or patterns. These are worn during competition and for training on the beach. The patrolled area of the beach is marked out with flags and beachgoers are encouraged to swim between the flags. Those wishing to use surfcraft are required to remain outside the flags.

In the UK, SLSA GB has a long history of voluntary members patrolling local beaches, offering advice, first aid and rescue services. This continues today and is a vital service to the community. Many local authorities provide a lifeguard service from May to September on popular beaches. In some areas RNLI Lifeguards operate on behalf of the local authority.


The other key part of surf lifesaving is the competitive sport which evolved from the training activities of lifeguards at Australian surf beaches, though most events share little with modern Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) based surf rescue techniques. The sport is still based around the volunteer clubs which perform the rescue duty, from the children in the "nippers" though to professional elite circuits that have been established for the high-profile "ironman" events. The sport is mainly still confined to Australia and New Zealand, although the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service in Canada has run the Nova Scotia Surf League competitions every summer since 2000, and competition programs exist in 5 regions of Canada. In Europe the sport is increasingly developed, with Spain and Germany particularly strong and the UK developing rapidly.

Surf lifesaving clubs regularly hold surf carnivals where clubs compete with each other in a range of beach- and rescue-oriented events including combined swimming and running, surf ski and surf boat races. The youth arm of the clubs is known as Nippers, and holds similar events.

The various events involve elements of surf swimming, board riding, sand running, mock rescues using rowed surf boats, and paddling special kayak-like surf skis. Some events are for individuals, but many are team events.

Individual surf lifesaving events include:
* Ironman
*Long boat rescue (also called surf boat rescue)
*R&R (Rescue & Resuscitation)
*March Past
*Beach events (including Beach Sprints, Beach Relays and Flags)
*Surf Ski
*First Aid Competition, Champion Lifesaver and Patrol Competition
*Board events
*IRB racing

Lifesaving today

Surf lifesaving in Australia is well-developed as both a voluntary lifeguard service and as a competitive sport. There are 305 surf lifesaving clubs in Australia that collectively patrol over 400 beaches. In the 2003-2004 season there were 24,968 active members (those who are rostered to patrol regularly), of which approximately 40% are women. In the 2003-2004 patrol season, lifesavers performed 9,044 rescues, provided emergency care to 26,739 patients, and undertook 171,965 preventative actions.

Surf Lifesavers provide important lifeguard services on beaches in Australia on weekends and public holidays throughout the patrol season on a volunteer basis. In New South Wales the season coincides with the beginning of the September school holidays and finishes on ANZAC Day. They also provide year-round on-call volunteer rescue services in most areas known as Support Services.

Lifesavers are distinguished in Australia from paid lifeguards which are generally employed by the relevant Local Government authority and patrol the beach throughout the year. Lifeguards also patrol lakes, pools, and other aquatic venues. Support Services also operate to augment the patrols on the beach by providing surveillance away from the flag areas and emergency back-up when required.

ee also

*International Life Saving Federation
*Commonwealth Pool Lifesaving Championships
*Royal Life Saving Society Australia
*The Coolangatta Gold




*cite book | author=David Eaton | title=Lifesaving: Handbook of The Royal Life Saving Society United Kingdom | publisher=RLSS UK | year=1995 | id=ISBN 0-907082-59-9

External links

* [ International Life Saving Federation]
* [ Federación Aragonesa de Salvamento y Socorrismo]
* [ Los Angeles City Lifeguard Association]
* [ Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Association]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • surf lifesaving — /sɜf ˈlaɪfseɪvɪŋ/ (say serf luyfsayving) noun lifesaving which is appropriate for emergency situations occurring on surf beaches. Also, surf life saving. Usage: The form surf life saving is an older spelling still to be found in the names of… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Surf lifesaving — Panneaux de surf lifesaving à Newcastle, Nouvelle Galles du Sud, Australie Surf lifesaving est un mouvement de sauvetage aquatique volontaire organisé ayant des compétitions de sauvetage. Inventé en Australie au début du XXe siècle, il s est… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • surf lifesaving — noun a) The activity of rescuing swimmers in distress at surf beaches. b) The movement promoting and organising that activity …   Wiktionary

  • surf-lifesaving reel — /sɜf laɪfseɪvɪŋ ˈril/ (say serf luyfsayving reel) noun → surf reel …   Australian English dictionary

  • Ironman (surf lifesaving) — The sport of Ironman was developed in 1964 in Australia to combine the four main disciplines of surflifesaving into a single race; swimming, board paddling, ski paddling and running. The sport should not be confused with Ironman triathlon.Perhaps …   Wikipedia

  • Lifesaving — is the act involving rescue, resuscitation and first aid. It often refers to water safety and aquatic rescue however it could include ice rescue, flood and river rescue, swimming pool rescue and other emergency medical services. Lifesaving also… …   Wikipedia

  • Surf Life Saving New Zealand — (SLSNZ) is the organisation that controls surf lifesaving in New Zealand. Their strapline is In it for life , emphasising the long relationship many members have with the organisation, and also alluding to the fact that the organisation is… …   Wikipedia

  • Surf Life Saving Australia — (SLSA) is Australia’s major water safety and rescue authority and is one of the largest volunteer organisations in the country. It s mission is “to provide a safe beach and aquatic environment throughout Australia.” SLSA and it s state centres… …   Wikipedia

  • Surf Life Saving Northern Region — (SLSNR) is the organisation responsible for controlling the surf lifesaving activities around the Auckland region of New Zealand. It is responsible for surf beaches from Far North Rescue to Raglan Surf Lfe Saving Club. It is a district… …   Wikipedia

  • Surf ski — A surf ski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open (sit on top) cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder. Characteristics Typically 5 6.5m (16½ 21ft) long and only 40 50cm (16 20 ) wide, surf skis are extremely fast when… …   Wikipedia

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