American Red Cross Lifeguarding

Fall Semester 2023 

The primary purpose of the American Red Cross Lifeguarding course is to provide entry-level lifeguard participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide professional-level care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel take over. This program offers a choice of Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED courses to meet the various training needs of a diverse audience.

Candidates must: 

  1. Be at least 16 years old on or before the final scheduled session of the course. 
  2. Swim 300 yards, continuously demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing. Candidates may swim using the front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of both, but swimming on the back or side is not allowed. Swim goggles may be used. 
  3. Tread water for 2 minutes, using only the legs. Candidates should place their hands under the armpits. 
  4. Complete a timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds: 
    • Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. Swim goggles are not allowed. 
    • Surface dive, feet-first or headfirst, to a depth of 7 to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound object. 
    • Return to the surface and swim 20 yards on the back to return to the starting point with both hands holding the object and keeping the face at or near the surface so they are able to get a breath. 
    • Exit the water without using a ladder or steps. 
Participants in Lifeguarding Class
Participants pulls student out of water
Lifeguards pull participant out of water

Learning Objectives

Candidates must: 

  • Meet the age requirement.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in all of the prerequisite skills.
  • Describe the characteristics and responsibilities of a professional lifeguard.
  • Explain how to fulfill the responsibilities of a professional lifeguard
  • Define certain legal considerations and apply them to situations that might be encountered in lifeguarding.
  • Describe ongoing training for lifeguards.
  • Describe what it means to work as part of a lifeguard and safety team.
  • Describe the role lifeguards play in ensuring facility safety.
  • Identify how to ensure the safety of patrons when weather conditions create safety concerns.
  • Describe the role that facility management plays in facility safety.
  • Describe the drowning process.
  • Identify the behaviors of a swimmer, distressed swimmer, and an active and a passive victim.
  • Identify and define elements of effective surveillance.
  • Explain proper scanning techniques and identify tactics to overcome scanning challenges.
  • Identify various types of zones of surveillance.
  • Explain how communication with patrons plays a role in preventing.
  • Explain patron surveillance techniques for various activities.
  • Identify how to recognize and care for a victim of poisoning, heat-related illnesses and cold- related emergencies.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work as a team to implement an EAP, perform a secondary assessment and provide first aid care.
  • Identify possible causes of head, neck or spinal injuries on land.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of head, neck or spinal injuries.
  • Demonstrate how to care for victims with head, neck or spinal injuries on land.
  • Demonstrate how to perform front and rear head-hold escapes.
  • Demonstrate how to give in-water ventilations.
  • Demonstrate how to perform a quick extrication of a victim from the water.
  • Demonstrate how to care for victims with head, neck and spinal injuries in shallow and deep water.
  • Demonstrate how to care for a victim with a head, neck or spinal injury in shallow water.
  • Demonstrate how to rescue an active victim in deep water.
  • Demonstrate how to rescue a submerged passive victim in deep water and provide care.


  • Instructor-Led: 28 hours, 35 minutes 
  • Blended Learning: 7 hours eLearning and 19 hours 45 minutes in-person 


Currently certified Lifeguarding instructors or instructor trainers 

Certification Requirements 

To receive American Red Cross certification, participants must: 

  • Pass all course prerequisites, 
  • Attend all class sessions in their entirety, 
  • Demonstrate competency in all required skills and activities, 
  • Demonstrate competency in the final skills scenarios, and 
  • Correctly answer 80% of the questions on the final written exam. Failure to meet the course prerequisites, attend all classes in their entirety, demonstrate competency in skills, or failure of the written test will result in forfeiture of class fees and certification will not be granted. 

Certificate Issued and Validity Period 

The American Red Cross certification for Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED is valid for 2 years. 


  • SF State Students - $75  
  • SF State Faculty & Staff - $150
  • State Alumni & Community - $275 

Lifeguard Course (September 15th - 17th)

Date Time Location
Friday, September 15th 3:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Classroom 105, MWC Pool
Saturday, September 16th 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Classroom 105, MWC Pool
Sunday, September 17th 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Classroom 105, MWC Pool

Click here to register!

Lifeguard Course (November 4th - 5th)

Date Time Location
Friday, November 3rd 3:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Classroom 105, MWC Pool
Saturday, November 4th 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Classroom 105, MWC Pool
Sunday, November 5th 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M Classroom 105, MWC Pool

Click here to register!

How to Enroll into an American Red Cross Safety Training   

  • Log on to the Campus Rec member portal using your SF State credentials here
  • Click here to purchase a Lifeguarding Course 

Any Lifeguarding and First Aid training related questions can be directed to our Risk Management Student Managers at or our Aquatics and Safety Coordinator, Ben Forchini at