Safe Swim Defense
Before a BSA group may engage in
swimming activities of any kind, a minimum of one adult leader must completed
Safe Swim Defense training, have a commitment card (No. 34243) with them, and
agree to use the eight defenses in this plan. Safe Swim Defense and Safety
Afloat training can be given by any person authorized by the council,
including a BSA Aquatics resource person, a unit leader with aquatics skill,
or any other person with aquatics knowledge or experience whom the local
council has approved.
You will have to check with your
local council for opportunities to attend this training. One of the best
opportunities for Safe Swim Defense training is in summer camp. Often times it
is given at a Roundtable in May or June.
The eight Safe Swim Defenses
Qualified Supervision - All swimming activity must be supervised by
a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly
accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of youth members in his
or her care, who is experienced in the water and confident of his or her
ability to respond in the event of an emergency, and who is trained in and
committed to compliance with the eight points of BSA Safe Swim Defense. (It is
strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older youth
member currently certified as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the planning and
conduct of all swimming activity.)
Physical Fitness - Require evidence of fitness for swimming activity
with a complete health history from physician, parent, or legal guardian.
The adult supervisor should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection
to anticipate any potential risks associated with individual health
conditions. In the event of any significant health conditions, the unit leader
should require proof of an examination by a physician. Those with physical
disabilities can enjoy and benefit from aquatics if the handicaps are known
and necessary precautions are taken.
Safe Area - When swimming in areas not regularly maintained and
used for swimming activity, have lifeguards and swimmers systematically
examine the bottom of the swimming area to determine varying depths, deep
holes, rocks, and stumps. Packs should not be swimming in these types of
areas but should make sure the pool or lake or water where they are is safe in
accordance with these instructions. Mark off the area for three groups:
not more than 3˝ feet deep for nonswimmers; from shallow water to just over
the head for beginners; deep water not more than 12 feet for swimmers. A
participant should not be permitted to swim in an area where he cannot readily
recover and maintain his footing, or cannot maintain his position on the
water, because of swimming ability or water flow. When setting up a safe
swimming area in natural waters, use poles stuck in the bottom, or plastic
bottles, balloons, or sticks attached to rock anchors with twine for boundary
markers. Enclose non-swimmer and beginner areas with buoy lines (twine and
floats) between markers. Mark the outer bounds of the swimmer area with
floats. Be sure that clear-water depth is at least 7 feet before allowing
anyone to dive into the water. Diving is prohibited from any height more than
40 inches above the water surface; feet-first entry is prohibited from more
than 60 inches above the water. For any entry from more than 18 inches above
the water surface, clear-water depth must be 10 to 12 feet. Only surface
swimming is permitted in turbid water. Swimming is not permitted in water over
12 feet deep, in turbid water where poor visibility and depth would interfere
with emergency recognition or prompt rescue, or in whitewater, unless all
participants wear appropriate personal flotation devices and the supervisor
determines that swimming with personal flotation equipment is safe under the
Lifeguards on Duty - Swim only where there are certified lifeguards on
duty. There are provisions for Troops to provide their own lifeguards.
Cub Scouts are too young to serve as lifeguards.
Lookout - Station a lookout on the shore where it is possible to
see and hear everything in all areas. The lookout may be the adult in charge
of the swim or several other adults and may give the buddy signals.
Ability Groups - Divide into three ability groups: Learners,
beginners, and swimmers. Keep each group in its own area. Learners
have not passed a swimming test. Beginners must pass this test: jump
feet first into water over the head in depth, level off, swim 25 feet on the
surface. Stop, turn sharply, resume swimming as before and return to the
starting place. Swimmers pass this test: jump feet-first into water
over the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using
one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or
crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must
be completed in one swim without stops and include at least one sharp turn.
After completing the swim, rest by floating. These classification tests
should be renewed annually, preferably at the beginning of the season.
Buddy System - Pair every youth with another in the same ability group.
Buddies check in and out of the swimming area together. Emphasize that each
buddy lifeguards his buddy. Check everyone in the water about every ten
minutes, or as needed to keep the buddies together. The adult in charge
signals for a buddy check with a single blast of a whistle or ring of a bell
and a call of ''Buddies!'' The adult counts slowly to ten while buddies join
and raise hands and remain still and silent. Guards check all areas, count the
pairs, and compare the total with the number known to be in the water. Signal
two blasts or bells to resume swimming. Signal three blasts or bells for
Discipline - Be sure everyone understands and agrees that
swimming is allowed only with proper supervision and use of the complete Safe
Swim Defense. The applicable rules should be presented and learned prior
to the outing, and should be reviewed for all participants at the water’s edge
just before the swimming activity begins. Scouts should respect and follow all
directions and rules of the adult supervisor. When people know the reason for
rules and procedures they are more likely to follow them. Be strict and fair,
showing no favoritism.