Lifesaving sport
A phase of a Lifesaving competition.
Highest governing bodyInternational Life Saving Federation
First contestedearly 20th century
TypeAquatic sport
Country or regionWorldwide
World GamesPool: 1985 – 2021; Beach: 2001 – 2009

Lifesaving is an official discipline of the World Games, the Games with all the sports, recognized by the IOC but not yet in the Olympic program.[1]

It includes several events, such as Beach Flags, Iron(wo)man/Ocean(wo)man and 200 meter Super Lifesaver.

Beach Flags

Main article: Beach Flags (sport)

Competitors lie face down on the beach with their toes on the starting line. At the starting signal competitors rise, turn, sprint and try to obtain a beach flag (typically short lengths of hosepipe ). The difficulty in the sport is that there are always fewer flags than there are competitors. The competitor, or competitors (up to three in heats) who do not manage to capture a flag are eliminated. The beach flags are then reset, lanes are redrawn and the game starts over again with the leftover competitors. This continues until there is one person remaining - the winner. The game progresses in the same way as musical chairs.[2]

Ball Relay (Discontinued event)

A game of Ball Relay


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 one of few sports that has a humanitarian purpose:[4] to train better life savers and life guards.

The ILS advises that 'lifesaving sport was primarily intended to encourage lifesavers to develop, maintain and improve the essential physical and mental skills needed to save lives in the aquatic environment.' The sport consists of a series of competition disciplines intended 'to further develop and demonstrate lifesaving skills, fitness and motivation'.[5]

The World Governing body for life saving sport is the ILS. Each nation within has a national governing body. In some nations (including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) there are numerous governing bodies affiliated to the ILS. 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 ILS organises the Lifesaving World Championships, formerly called 'Rescue' Series.

Competitive lifesaving is carried out widely in the UK, with clubs including Leeds Phoenix Lifesaving, Belfast Olympia Lifesaving club, Blyth Lifesaving club and Crawley Town LSC. Competitions at university level are organised through BULSCA. Lifesaving has progressed significantly becoming a modern and widely known sport and occupation.

Lifesaving is an official discipline of the World Games, the Games with all the sports, recognized by the IOC but not yet in the Olympic program.[6]

Governing body

Main article: International Life Saving Federation

The International Life Saving Federation (ILS) was established on 27 March 1910 in Paris, France. The ILS is primarily known as the world authority and head in the global effort to "prevent drowning and regroups national life saving organisations/federations aiming at improving water safety, water rescue, lifesaving and lifeguarding and lifesaving sport[7]"


See also


  1. ^ "Lifesaver Hindi". Lifesaver Hindi. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  2. ^ How to Play Beach Flag Game?, retrieved 2022-11-21
  3. ^ "EDST 440 PEDL | Pass the Ball Relays". Retrieved 2022-11-24.
  4. ^ Firefighter's Combat Challenge
  5. ^ "Lifesaving Sport Events | International Life Saving Federation". Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  6. ^ "Lifesaver Hindi". Lifesaver Hindi. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  7. ^ "ILS History".