Lifesavers participate in Lifesaving Sport to increase both their fitness and skill levels to be better equipped to deal with emergency situations and saving lives. Lifesaving Sport is the sport with an unparalleled purpose making an outstanding contribution to public service. Lifesaving Sport keeps our Lifeguards “Rescue Ready”
Today’s sport comprises of both pool and ocean events presenting a truly multi-disciplined competition with close ties with swimming, athletics, kayaking, rowing, surfing and power boating, all with an extra dimension of excitement that make them unique. All events are run to International Life Saving Federation (ILS) rules. SLSGB is the Governing Body for Lifesaving Sport in Great Britain. Competitions take place on the beach, in the sea and in the pool, demonstrating the extraordinary strength and diversity of skills of lifesaving athletes.
On the sand endurance is tested in the 2km beach run, with speed and fitness coming to the fore in the beach sprint and relays. The beach flags – an explosive shoulder to shoulder knock out event, tests reaction time, strength and agility.
In the ocean there are both swimming and craft events. The surf race is a swim, starting from the beach, out through the breakers and back again, but with the luck of the surf the winner cannot be guaranteed until they are back up on the beach.
In board racing a rescue board modified to optimise speed and manoeuvrability is used whereas the ski is similar to a sit-on-top kayak but designed for speed, cutting through surf and catching waves. All events rely not only on athletic prowess but the ability to be able to read the unpredictability of the waves to gain any measure of success. All three of these events are amalgamated with a transition run on the sand in the ultimate in life saving sport event – the Oceanman.
With other events like Surf Boats, there are ties to the past where we see four rowers in a boat, guided by their sweep standing at the stern, pit themselves against the surf in a test of physical strength and courage in a journey some 400 metres out to sea and back, often surfing to the beach. Then there are the links to the modern era with the fast and furious pace of Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) racing, where motorised boats leap spectacularly over waves demonstrating the skills of the new age of lifesaving.
In the pool, the events draw heavily on swimming ability but each event requires an extra skill dimension from the athletes. Events include the obstacle race, manikin towing and carrying races with and without swim fins and the Super Lifesaver that combines all these skills and provides the biggest challenge to those who contest it.
Life Saving Sport Athletes compete in the following groups:
Nipper (age 7 – 13)
In ‘Nipper’ competitions the events are largely modified to cater for the athlete’s size and experience with an emphasis more on fun and learning.
Youth (age 13-19)
The youth age groups are more competitive but with just as much focus on participation.
Seniors Open (age 16+)
The seniors open competition is the most competitive, where outstanding athletes are created.
Master (age 30+)
The Masters category allows new and existing sport competitors an opportunity to continue to participate in the sport.
At the elite end, every year a Great Britain Lifesaving Team is selected to contest various international events including European and World Championships. Surf Life Saving GB’s Elite Team consistently performs well and has produced several European and World Champions.
Members compete in the following competitions: