AskDefine | Define lifesaving

Dictionary Definition

lifesaving n : saving the lives of drowning persons; "he took a course in lifesaving"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Describing that which preserves life, that prevents death.
    The lifesaving surgery was expensive, but so is a funeral.


  1. The act of saving a life
    I'm normally a big fan of lifesaving, but in his case we can make an excpetion.

Extensive Definition

Lifesaving is the act involving rescue, resuscitation and first aid. It often refers to water safety and aquatic rescue however it could include ice rescue, flood and river rescue, swimming pool rescue and other Emergency medical services. Lifesaving also refers to sport where lifesavers compete skills, speed and team work. Lifesaving activities specialized in oceanic environment is called surf lifesaving or coastal lifesaving.
Those who participate in lifesaving activities as a volunteer are called lifesavers, and those who are employed to perform lifesaving activities are called lifeguards.


In the 19th century, countries like France with its long history of disaster preparedness, the Netherlands with two thirds of its land below sea-level and Britain where swimming pools gained so much popularity, were aware of the danger of water and establishing the methods of drowning prevention and rescue.
The first international lifesaving conference was held in Marseilles, France in 1878, but it was not until 1910 that the first international lifesaving organization, FIS (Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique), was founded. FIS members included Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey.
In 1891 the Royal Life Saving Society was created to affiliate British and Irish lifesaving and lifeguarding clubs. It expanded its operations to Canada and Australia in 1894.
In 1971 Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States founded another international organization called World Life Saving (WLS).
FIS and WLS merged into a new organization, International Life Saving Federation (ILS) in 1993 with its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium.
Lifesaving has progressed significantly becoming a modern and widely known sport and occupation.


Surf lifesaving developed in Australia and is often simply called "lifesaving". It focuses on drowning prevention and rescue in a coastal setting. General lifesaving does not limit its activities to beaches - its aim is to promote water safety around ponds, lakes, rivers, in the home and in any other applicable environments. This is why landlocked countries like Switzerland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Slovakia, are also full members of ILS.
Lifesavers are volunteers and usually stationed at a club house. They provide training for lifesaver/lifeguard qualifications as well as educating the general public.


Life Saving has become a growing sport in many countries, the sport can be played indoors in swimming pools or outside on beaches. In the same way that you get Pool Lifeguards and Beach Lifeguards.
Competitive Lifesaving is separated into two clear divisions; Stillwater and Openwater competitions.
Stillwater lifesaving involves competing in a pool in a variety of events. Races are time based and heats are decided by qualifying times. The focus is on speed and in general the fittest person does the best. There are 7 pool based events as listed below with a brief description-
100m Manikin Carry The competitor swims 50 m freestyle wearing fins and then dives to recover a submerged manikin, weighing 54 kilos, at the other end of the pool. The manikin's head must break the surface within 10m of the end of the pool, and once it does so it must remain above the water level until the end of the event (this is known commonly as the dunking rule). The competitor carries the manikin to the finish edge of the pool.
100 Manikin Tow The competitor swims 50 m freestyle with fins and rescue tube. The semi filled, and therefore floating, manikin is waiting at the other end of the pool, the competitor clips this manikin into the tube within 5m of the end and swims back- the manikin in tow.
50m Manikin Carry The competitor swims the first 25 m of a 50m pool freestyle and then dives to recover a submerged manikin to the surface between the 25 and 30m marks. The competitor then carries the manikin to the finish edge of the pool. Again the dunking rule applies.
100 Rescue Meadley The competitor swims 50 m freestyle then turns, at this point the competitor must go underwater and swim underwater to a submerged manikin located at 20m distance for men and 15m distance for women. The competitor must stay underwater until they reach the manikin. The competitor surfaces the manikin within 5 m of of reaching it, and then carries it the remaining distance to the finish edge of the pool, of course the dunking rule applies.
200m Obstacles The competitor swims 200 m freestyle during which he/she swims under eight (8) immersed obstacles.
200m Super Lifesaver The competitor swims 1 and a half lengths freestyle and then dives to recover a submerged manikin. The competitor surfaces the manikin within 5 m of the middle of the pool and carries it to the turning edge. After touching the wall the competitor releases the manikin.
In the water, the competitor dons fins and rescue tube within 5 m of the wall and swims 50 m freestyle. After touching the wall the competitor fixes the rescue tube around a floating manikin within 5 m of the end and tows it to touch the finish edge of the pool.
12m Line Throw In this event, the competitor throws an unweighted line to a fellow team member located in the water approximately 12 m distant and pulls this "victim" back to the poolside.
Openwater Lifesaving takes place on the beach and in the ocean. Races are not set in lanes and tend to be more exciting as other factors such as weather, tides and waves have a large influence on the results. Different skills are needed, aside from just fitness and speed. Experience and tactics definitely play a large role.
lifesaving in Japanese: ライフセービング
lifesaving in Swedish: Livräddning
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