Lifesaving is the act involving rescue
Rescue refers to responsive operations that usually involve the saving of life, or prevention of injury during an incident or dangerous situation....

, resuscitation and first aid
First aid
First aid is the provision of initial care for an illness or injury. It is usually performed by non-expert, but trained personnel to a sick or injured person until definitive medical treatment can be accessed. Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care...

. 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
Emergency medical services
Emergency medical services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care, to patients with illnesses and injuries which the patient, or the medical practitioner, believes constitutes a medical emergency...

. Lifesaving also refers to sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

 where lifesavers compete skills, speed and team work. Lifesaving activities specialized in oceanic environment is called surf lifesaving or coastal lifesaving.

Those who participate in lifesaving activities as a volunteer are called lifesavers, and those who are employed to perform lifesaving activities are called lifeguards.


In the 19th century, countries like France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 with its long history of disaster preparedness, the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 with two thirds of its land below sea level and Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 where swimming pools gained so much popularity, were aware of the danger of water and establishing the methods of drowning prevention and rescue.

In 1891 the Royal Life Saving Society was created to affiliate British and Irish lifesaving and lifeguarding clubs. It expanded its operations to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1894.

The first international lifesaving conference was held in Marseilles, France in 1878, but it was not until 1910 that the first international lifesaving organization, FIS (Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique), was founded. FIS members included Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey.

In 1913 the DLRG
The Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e.V. is a relief organization for life saving in Germany. The DLRG is a non-profit, independent organization based on volunteers.-Tasks:...

 was founded in Germany.

In 1971 Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States founded another international organization called World Life Saving (WLS).

FIS and WLS merged into a new organization, International Life Saving Federation
International Life Saving Federation
The International Life Saving Federation is an organisation for drowning prevention, water safety, lifesaving and lifesaving sport.- Definition :...

 (ILS) in 1993 with its headquarters in Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

, Belgium.

Competitive lifesaving is carried out widely in the UK, with great clubs including Derby Phoenix Lifesaving and Crawley. Competitions at university level are organised through BULSCA
The British Universities Lifesaving Clubs' Association is the governing body for lifesaving sport at the University level in the United Kingdom. It organises the university-level competition schedule, assists with the training of judges, and hosts an annual Student National Championship...


Lifesaving has progressed significantly becoming a modern and widely known sport and occupation.


Surf lifesaving developed in Australia and is often simply called "lifesaving". It focuses on drowning prevention and rescue in a coastal setting. General lifesaving does not limit its activities to beaches - its aim is to promote water safety around ponds, lakes, rivers, in the home and in any other applicable environments. This is why landlocked countries like Switzerland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Slovakia, are also full members of ILS.

Lifesavers are volunteers and usually stationed at a club house. They provide training for lifesaver/lifeguard qualifications as well as educating the general public.


Life saving has become a growing sport in many countries. The sport can be played indoors in swimming pools or outside on beaches, in the same way that you get pool lifeguards and beach lifeguards. Life saving sport is the only sport in the world that has a humanitarian purpose; to train better life savers and life guards.

The World Governing body for life saving sport is the International Life Saving Federation. Each nation within has a national governing body. In some nations (including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) there are numerous governing bodies associated to the International Life Saving Federation. This is often due to various components of life saving within a nation being focused on by separate organisations. (e.g. Royal Life Saving Society focusing mainly on pool safety and Surf Life Saving Association focusing on beach safety.)

Every two years the International Life Saving Federation organises the Lifesaving World Championships, called 'Rescue' Series.

See also

  • Commonwealth Pool Lifesaving Championships
    Commonwealth Pool Lifesaving Championships
    The Commonwealth Pool Lifesaving Championships is an international event where swimmers from around the Commonwealth take part in lifesaving sport events.- Information :The Royal Lifesaving Society....

  • International Life Saving Federation
    International Life Saving Federation
    The International Life Saving Federation is an organisation for drowning prevention, water safety, lifesaving and lifesaving sport.- Definition :...

  • Lifeguard
    A lifeguard supervises the safety and rescue of swimmers, surfers, and other water sports participants such as in a swimming pool, water park, or beach. Lifeguards are strong swimmers and trained in first aid, certified in water rescue using a variety of aids and equipment depending on...

  • Royal Life Saving Society UK
    Royal Life Saving Society UK
    The Royal Lifesaving Society UK, also known as Lifesavers, is the governing body for lifesaving and lifeguarding in the United Kingdom. The Royal Lifesaving Society also exists in the Republic of Ireland under the title RLSS Ireland.-History:...

  • Royal Life Saving Society Australia
    Royal Life Saving Society Australia
    Royal Life Saving Society Australia has been serving Australia for over 110 years and is the leading water safety, swimming and lifesaving education organisation in Australia. It is active all over Australia. Its branches, members, volunteers, trainers and lifesavers are found in almost all...

  • Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth
    Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth
    The Royal Life Saving Society - Commonwealth is the umbralla organisation that links together life saving societies in the Commonwealth of Nations. The RLSS-Commonwealth organises the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships...

  • Royal Life Saving Society of Canada
    Royal Life Saving Society of Canada
    The Royal Life Saving Society Canada operates throughout Canada as the Lifesaving Society. The Society works to prevent drowning and water-related injury through its training programs, Water Smart public education, water-incident research, safety management and lifesaving sport...

  • Surf lifesaving
  • United States Lifesaving Association
    United States Lifesaving Association
    The United States Lifesaving Association is a nonprofit professional association of beach lifeguards and open water rescuers in the United States.-See also:* Ural State Law Academy of the Russian Federation* Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger...

  • Rashtriya Life Saving Society (India)
    Rashtriya Life Saving Society (India)
    The Rashtriya Life Saving Society is a national, non-profit, voluntary organisation dedicated to helping people to learn modern lifesaving techniques. The Society is the leading provider of training in first aid, resuscitation, water safety, life saving and life guarding skills in India...

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