Lifeguard in training for swim lessons at the YMCA

Aquatic Certifications – Bronze, Swim Instructor, National Lifeguard

Our Aquatic Certifications provide you with the necessary training to be a lifeguard and swim instructor at any YMCA in Canada.

In partnership with the Lifesaving Society of Ontario, we’re proud to offer certifications including Bronze Star, Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross, National Lifeguard, Swim Instructor and Lifesaving Instructor, along with required recertifications.

Aquatic Certifications

The YMCA developed the first nationally recognized aquatics programs in 1931
YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce Aquatics Team

Our Aquatic Certifications provide you with the necessary training to be a lifeguard and swim instructor at any YMCA in Canada.

In partnership with the Lifesaving Society of Ontario, we’re proud to offer four levels of certification including Bronze, Lifeguard and Instructor, along with required recertifications. 


Registration is required for all Aquatic Certifications. You may register at any time of the year for these courses to be put on a waiting list for the upcoming course.

To learn more about course fees, dates and times, or to register for an upcoming course, visit ACTIVE Net or call Customer Service at 519-376-0484 ext. 0. Full payment is required at the time of registration. Financial assistance may be available; contact our Customer Service team to discuss your options. 

Course Descriptions

Some of our courses are taught using blended learning. This involves an online component, an in-class component and an in-pool component. Candidates will be required to complete assignments and attend online meetings with the Lifesaving Instructor before the in-pool sessions begin and throughout the course. 

Level 1

Prerequisites: 11 years old by last day

Excellent preparation for success in Bronze Medallion. Participants develop problem-solving and decision-making skills individually and in partners. Candidates learn CPR and develop the lifesaving skills needed to be their own lifeguard. Includes a timed 400m swim.

Prerequisites: 12 yrs by last day

Assistant Instructor is the first introduction to helping a Swim Instructor during swimming lessons. This course provides hands on experience working with children, and prepares candidates for a future role in our aquatic programs. Five hours of volunteer instruction is required during the course. 

After participants complete this course, they are eligible to volunteer in a YMCA Aquatics department.

Learning Style: In person
Prerequisites: 13 years old by last day (proof of age required) or completed Bronze Star

Teaches an understanding of the lifesaving principles embodies in water rescue: judgment, knowledge, skill and fitness. Rescuers learn tows and carries, and defense methods and releases in preparation for challenging rescues of increased risk involving conscious and unconscious victims of various types. Lifesavers develop stroke efficiency and endurance in a timed 12 minute 400m swim.

Level 2

Learning Style: In person
Prerequisites: Bronze Medallion & Emergency First Aid

Designed for lifesavers who want the challenge of more advanced training including an introduction to safe supervision in aquatic facilities. Bronze Cross is a prerequisite for all advanced training programs including National Lifeguard and Instructor certification. Includes a timed 11 minute 400m swim.

Prerequisites: 15yrs by last day + Standard First Aid (CPR-C) and minimum Bronze Cross certification

Learn the theories and methods behind teaching swimming lessons. Refine leadership skills and learn strategies for effective supervision and instruction. To teach swimming lessons at the Y, you must take this course. YMCA Swim Instructors can teach preschool, youth and adult lessons, parented classes and Bronze Star.


YMCA Lifeguard certification is current for two years. Register for a recertification course or contact us for details to get recertified.

Level 3

Prerequisites: 15 yrs + Swim Instructor

This course prepares individuals to organize, plan, teach and evaluate lifesaving and First Aid skills and resuscitation techniques in the Society’s Lifesaving and First Aid awards. Successful candidates receive two certification cards: Lifesaving Instructor and Emergency First Aid Instructor. Current Lifesaving Instructors are certified to teach; Canadian Swim Patrol Program, Bronze Star, Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, Lifesaving Fitness, Distinction, Basic and Emergency First Aid, CPR.


To remain certified, Instructors, Examiners and Trainers must recertify their award within 24 months of the certification or last recertification date. This is done through the Lifesaving Society, learn more here.

Learning Style: In person
15 years old by last day + Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid (CPR-C) from Lifesaving approved agency, proof is required.

National Lifeguard is Canada’s only nationally recognized lifeguard certification program. National Lifeguard is a legal certificate for lifeguarding throughout the country. It is the only lifeguard certificate recognized by the Province of Ontario for lifeguarding public swimming pools. Includes a timed 10 minute 400m swim. Learn more at



Requirement: National Lifeguard + First Aid

National Lifeguard certification is current for two years and is recertified by completing a National Lifeguard recertification exam. All skills learned on original course will be reviewed and are expected to be at standard. Be prepared to swim!

Refund Policy

A service charge of $25 is applicable to every refund or change in schedule. Program fees are refundable prior to start date of class (less $25 service charge). Aquatic Certifications & First Aid course fees are refundable up to two weeks from start date. Refunds requested within the two-week period prior to the course will receive a credit on account only (less $25 service charge). Refunds will not be granted on or after start date of program except for medical reasons. All refunds for medical reasons require a doctor’s note.

Attendance & Exams

If a course says ‘100% attendance required’, do you mean it? Yes! The Lifesaving Society mandates that full attendance is required. Candidates who miss portions of the course will be unable to pass. 

Is the exam date flexible? No. We arrange for a specially-trained Lifesaving Society Examiner to conduct our exams. This is a commitment of time that cannot be made up. Candidates who do not come to the exam will be unable to pass the course.

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