RNLI lifeguards are qualified in lifesaving and casualty care, highly trained, strong and fit. They must be able to swim 200m in under 3½ minutes, and run 200m on sand in under 40 seconds.
However, a good lifeguard rarely gets wet – 95% of a lifeguard's work is preventative. The lifeguards monitor sea conditions and set up the appropriate flags, watch the people on the beach and offer safety advice both on the beach and in classrooms through our education programmes.
Most RNLI lifeguards are paid by the relevant local authority to maintain patrols on our busiest beaches. But we also have volunteer lifeguards. Some are young or newly qualified lifeguards gaining experience, while others just enjoy helping out in their spare time.
We also have Lifeguard Support Volunteers, who help the lifeguards with land-based duties, such as lookout, radio communications and casualty care.