2001: RNLI lifeguards

RNLI lifeguards starting patrolling beaches in 2001 and are now an essential part of our seamless rescue service from the beach to the open sea. 

RNLI lifeguards are an essential part of our seamless rescue service that saves lives from the beach to the open sea.

We are always looking at ways to not only save more lives at sea, but prevent people from getting into trouble in the first place.

Beach lifeguarding is a natural expansion of our search and rescue lifeboat service. RNLI lifeguards and lifeboat crews work together, responding to the thousands of incidents that happen every year around the coast.

But 95% of an RNLI lifeguard’s work is preventative. Our lifeguards keep beachgoers safe by educating them about the dangers and spotting the dangers before accidents happen.

Their lifesaving impact

RNLI Lifeguard Richard Evans on a rescue board

Photo: RNLI / Nathan Williams

RNLI Lifeguard Richard Evans

Our lifeguarding service started in 2001 following a successful pilot scheme. The trial project took place during the Summer of 2001 from May to September, operating in five local authority areas and covering 26 popular beaches in south-west England.

Since then, it has grown into a world-class beach lifeguarding service. Every year, our lifeguards keep watch over more and more beaches. Today, over 1,000 RNLI lifeguards patrol over 200 beaches in the UK and Channel Islands during the Summer, with 365-day lifeguard patrols at Crosby in Merseyside and Boscombe in Dorset (East and West).

They have saved hundreds of lives - people who wouldn't have survived had they not been there. And we’ll never know how many more lives have been saved through their beach safety advice and vigilance.

RNLI lifeguards have to be physically strong and fit and undergo rigorous training to ensure they are fully competent to protect themselves and the thousands of people who flock to the beach each Summer.

And we are now sharing our lifeguarding expertise with lifesaving organisations overseas in our effort to tackle the global drowning problem.