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About the OPEN WATER LIFEGUARD Qualification (OWL)

The Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) Qualification was developed by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to address the role of open water lifeguards and the needs of open water operators. As the open water industry continues to grow, the RLSS UK have endeavoured to respond to change through the ongoing development of this qualification. The OWL qualification can be used to supervise and provide rescue cover for planned, organised and risk assessed activities in still, non-tidal water.


Every candidate attending a OWL course must: 

  • Be 16-years-old or over at the time of assessment

  • Be competent and confident in open water

  • Be able to submerge under the water confidently

  • Before the course, candidates must be able to swim at least 400 metres in a pool/ open water swimming continuously on their front and showing urgency

  • Able to submerge under the water confidently

  • Must complete minimum guided learning hours

  • Successfully complete the course assessment


The OWL enables candidates with no previous lifeguard experience to become qualified. By attaining this qualification candidates will have been assessed as competent to provide supervision and rescue cover for planned, organised and risk-assessed activities in open water still, non-tidal.

The Open Water Lifeguard Qualification, delivered over three days, is valid for two years and is independently assessed. The candidate manual and trainer resources help the Open Water Lifeguard Trainer Assessor deliver through the three sections:

  • Section 1 - The Open Water Lifeguard, environment, hazards and supervision

  • Section 2 - Responding to an emergency and taking action

  • Section 3 - CPR and First Aid

New candidates: 18hrs + Assessment
Renewal candidates: 10hrs + Assessment 

Book on a COURSE


To see when we are next running an OWL course or to book our trainer to come and deliver a course on your site please email us for more details at

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