So, You Want to Be a Lifeguard? What it Takes to Get Through Lifeguard Training

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Lifeguard jobs require you to be strong, fit and able to swim. No matter what kind of lifeguard you decide to be (beach or pool), you need to start a training program.  You have to be able to swim and swim well. Not only is your life at risk but also the victims you are privileged to save.

Lifeguard Apparel

Training programs start with the right clothing. Choosing the right lifeguard apparel can increase or decrease your speed. Both Men’s lifeguard boardshorts, or women’s lifeguard swimsuits can fall off in the waves, restrict arm movement, cause rashes, and become transparent over time. Baggy lifeguard apparel without draining pockets create drag and slow you down. That is why proper lifeguard apparel is dire.

Women’s Lifeguard Swimsuits

Our lifeguard store carries a variety of one piece and two-piece lifeguard swimsuits made for competitive women. They are made from top quality materials; and they fit right and stay on through the roughest conditions. The X-Back Elite a one-piece lifeguard swimsuit and the Surf Bikini a two-piece lifeguard swimsuit are both durable, outrageously comfortable, and are double lined with cute thin straps.

Men’s Lifeguard Boardshorts and Trunks

For those men who prefer board shorts our lifeguard boardshorts come with a rash free guarantee, have self-draining pockets and are made with ultra-soft nonabrasive material. The hottest trend for male lifeguards this year is the more efficient Watermen Short or boardshort liner worn under their lifeguard boardshorts. These boardshort liners, also known as compression shorts are made for the water, workouts and competitions. Watermen compression shorts help stabilize the joints and keep muscles warm, preventing muscle strain. Research shows that the compression shorts help decrease the heart rate and the lactic build up in athletes, therefore reducing the time it takes for muscles to repair themselves.

Note: Keeping your muscles warm before and after workouts or competitions is very important. Jumping in water with cold muscles can create all kinds of muscular problems. Remember cold muscles equal slower swim times and cramped muscles.

Male lifeguards, especially in winter often wear rashguards to help keep the upper body warm.

 Lifeguard Physical Training

Swim Strokes

The two most commonly used strokes in competitions are the freestyle and breast stroke. You may choose any style stoke you feel most comfortable with, but the freestyle stroke known as the front crawl is the most common and is the fastest. Beginners who are uncomfortable in the water need to practice this stroke. The freestyle stroke burns around 500-700 calories an hour with moderate to high intensity.

Using the breaststroke in practice will build strength in your shoulders, legs, hamstrings, triceps, inner thighs, and builds strong chest muscles. This breaststroke is performed while you are on your chest, and you swim without moving your trunk. This breaststroke burns approximately 720 calories in an hour.

 Developing Your Own Technique

Your personal technique can improve your time, and increases your endurance.  Simple improvements can be made just by changing the position of your hands and feet. Your swim stroke should be pulled straight back as you roll on your side, and take a breath, and your elbow should come straight up by your ear as it reenters the water. You want to extend and glide as much as you can with each stroke. Make sure you stretch your body out and roll slightly as you reach forward. Using a pair of lifeguard fins will teach you to use your upper leg and glut muscles, creating a more powerful kick rather than using just your knee and foot. Swim fins also help by increasing the flexibility of your ankles.  You should also use swimmer’s snorkel, so that you can focus on body rotation and arm strokes with ease.

Do not hold your breath under water while swimming. Instead practice bilateral breathing. You can do this by exhaling when your face enters the water, and blowing out through your mouth.

Note: It is important that the air is blown out slowly, exhaling too fast might obstruct the next inhalation, causing hyperventilation.


Always remember to do warm up exercises and stretch your joints, and muscles before you enter the water. Three sets of 8 full body squats will warm up hips, legs and back. Rotating the arms forward and backwards in both small and large circles will loosen up the shoulders and bring blood to the arms. Even doing a light jog will help increase oxygen to your muscles. And as always have plenty of fluids handy to keep your body well hydrated.


The use of weights will help make you stronger. Swimmers improve their performance and endurance by building muscle in their upper body. Remember powerful shoulders and arms propel you through the water. You do not need to use weights daily; remember your body requires rest days to allow the muscles to recover. It is important to develop your own weight strength program and aim to increase repetitions. At home or at the gym you can use standing dumbbells, resistance machines or exercise bands to build muscular strength and endurance.


A swimmer’s diet needs to combine protein and carbohydrates to ensure there is good muscular growth and endurance.

Pre-workout Meal

A great pre-workout meal is wheat toast with fruit, banana with a little cinnamon has been linked to stabilizing blood sugar, and improving brain function. If bananas aren’t your thing, try yogurt with a ½ a cup of trail mix, or even a yogurt and fruit smoothie

After Workout – Recovery Meal

When you are in recovery mode try grilled chicken with steamed veggies. If you must pan cook the veggies opt for olive oil instead of butter. Another option for those seafood lovers is salmon with sweet potato.

Whatever you choose to eat, just remember this is what will fuel you through to your optimal condition for what comes next, lifeguard certification and testing, which we will discuss in detail, in the next post.

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