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YMCA Health, Fitness & Aquatics

Aquatic Leadership Courses

Our aquatic leadership courses and certification programs provide you with the necessary training to be a lifeguard and swim instructor at any YMCA in Canada. 

The YMCA developed the first nationally recognized aquatics programs in 1931 and has continued to train leaders ever since.

Course Dates & Fees

To view dates and fees for our Aquatic Leadership Courses, please consult the Program Schedule. Course fees include applicable manuals and certification fees.  Exam dates cannot be changed.


Registration is required for all aquatic leadership courses. You may register at any time of the year for these courses.

Register at the YMCA Welcome Desk or by phone at 519-376-0484. Full payment is required at the time of registration.  Financial assistance may be availible. 

Aquatic Leadership Progression Chart
Please also view course descriptions listed below

Base Certification

Certification  Description  

Bronze Star  & Basic First  Aid    

Designed for candidates who have completed regular lessons and want to expand their lifesaving knowledge. 


Bronze Medallion & Emergency First Aid (CPR-B)

Candidates develop leadership, lifesaving and self-rescue skills as well as judgment, knowledge and physical fitness necessary for water rescue.  Training in CPR, choking, bleeding & shock. 


Bronze Cross & Standard First Aid    (CPR-C)                                                                                                                               

Receive an introduction to supervision in aquatic facilities, learn techniques for the rescue & treatment of others (including spinal injury management) and develop teamwork.  Adult, child & infant choking & CPR techniques are also taught. .


 * Age restrictions reflect a participant's age as of the last day of the course.


Lifeguard Certifcation

Certification Description  
Pre-NLS This course will challenge those who have taken Bronze Cross but are not old enough to take NLS. Better your chance of being hired at the Y! Candidates receive a $20 credit note to use towards future courses. 
National Lifeguard

National Lifeguard (formerly NLS)

This course is required if you want to be a Lifeguard.  An intense, nationally recognized Lifeguard certification program that trains candidates in water rescue, emergency care & aquatic supervision. 

Check your certification card carefully; First Aid must be Red Cross, St. John’s or Lifesaving Society.100% attendance required.


 * Age restrictions reflect a participant's age as of the last day of the course.


Swimming Instructor Certification

Certification Description  
Assistant Swimming   Instructor

Offered during the summer session.

Introduction to teaching swimming lessons and hands on experience working with an Instructor. 15 hours of volunteer instruction is required between course weekends. 

YMCA Swimming Instructor

Learn the theories and methods behind teaching swimming lessons.  Refine leadership skills and learn strategies for effective supervision.  If you want to teach swimming lessons at the Y or Harrison Park pools, you must take this course. 

100% attendance is required all days. Must be willing to take Lifesaving Instructor course.


Lifesaving Instructor
Build on strategies learned in the YMCA Instructor Course in order to teach swimming lessons. 100% attendance is required all days. 


 * Age restrictions reflect a participant's age as of the last day of the course.



Certification Description
National Lifeguard Formerly NLS - Certification expires every 2 years – you need to be current to be on deck!  Bring your original certification card & whistle. 
Swimming Instructor (YMCA)

Certification expires every 2 years – get re-qualified here!  Bring your original certification card and a whistle to this recert. 

Lifesaving Instructor Lifesaving Instructor certifications expire every two years.  No need to attend a clinic: send in your completed ‘credit card’ (you were given this on your Instructor course) along with this completed form directly to Lifesaving Society.

* Age restrictions reflect participant's age as of the last day of the course.