Friends Swimming

Safe Swim Defense

Since I am focusing on aquatics this month, 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 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 for more detailed information. Then visit the Online Learning Center and take the Safe Swim Defense course.

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.
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