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Safe Swim Defense

I want to encourage everyone involved in Scouting to be aware of Safe Swim Defense. Safe Swim Defense provides the steps which a BSA unit must take to safely participate in an activity which involves swimming. BSA regulations state:

Before a BSA group may engage in swimming activities of any kind, a minimum of one adult leader must complete Safe Swim Defense training, have a commitment card (No. 34243) with them, and agree to use the eight defenses in this plan.

Knowledge of the eight points of Safe Swim Defense are required for some BSA advancement and recognitions. The list below is a simple version. It is appropriate for an introduction to Safe Swim Defense, but does not constitute “training”.

If you are going to be supervising an aquatics activity, you should see the Safe Swim Defense page on scouting.org for more detailed information. Then visit the Online Learning Center and take the Safe Swim Defense course.

The Eight Points of Safe Swim Defense

  • Qualified Supervision. A responsible adult (at least 21 years of age) must supervise.
  • Physical Fitness. Require evidence of fitness for swimming activity, using a health history.
  • Safe Area. Before swimming in unknown waters, check the swimming area for varying depth, currents, holes, rocks, or other dangerous conditions.
  • Lifeguard on Duty. Swim where lifeguards are on duty.
  • Lookout. Station an adult on shore where he or she can see and hear everything in all areas.
  • Ability Groups. Divide Scouts into nonswimmers, beginners, and swimmers. Mark off areas in the swimming area for the different ability groups.
  • Buddy System. Pair each participant with another person in his ability group. They must stay together the entire time they are swimming.
  • Discipline. Insist upon strict but fair discipline.

Related Resources for Safe Swim Defense

BSA Swim Test

BSA Swim Test

The BSA swim test is used to determine ability level so that participants can swim in an area which is appropriate for them. The test is typically required for participation in any BSA aquatic activities, including swimming, boating, and other water-based activities. The test must be renewed annually.

Aquatics Supervision Guide

The BSA Aquatics Supervision Guide is a resource created by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that provides guidelines and best practices for the safe and responsible supervision of aquatic activities, including swimming, boating, and other water-based activities. It provides detailed information on the skills and certifications required for leaders and participants, as well as the equipment and safety measures that must be in place.

water rescue methods

Water Rescue Methods

Water rescue techniques are methods used to rescue someone who is in trouble in the water. You will see these methods throughout the BSA programs from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA to Venturing.

Safety Afloat

Before embarking on a boating activity with your scouts, make sure everyone is aware of the Safety Afloat guidelines. The program provides guidelines for selecting appropriate watercraft, conducting safety checks, ensuring that participants are properly equipped with personal flotation devices (PFDs), and responding to emergency situations. The BSA Safety Afloat program requires that at least one leader who is certified in Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat be present at all BSA aquatic activities.

Aquatics Theme

Aquatics Theme for Cub Scouts

Nothing is as fun on a hot summer day as being with your friends at the pool. This aquatics theme for Cub Scouts will help you plan a fun water activity for your den or pack. Just make sure you follow the BSA safety rules.

Swimming Program Feature

Swimming Troop Program Feature for Scouts BSA

The Swimming program feature helps Scouts learn how to safely enjoy fun and physical activity in the water. Scouts also need to know how to swim to enjoy other aquatics activities such as boating and paddling.


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