You’re never too young to start learning how to save lives. While there’s an age limit on when you can jump into the water with a whistle and rescue tube, the principle remains. Saving lives is important, and it requires education, training, and appreciation in order to build a career
around it.

The American Red Cross offers a Junior Lifeguarding course for anyone who is too young to become a lifeguard but still has an interest in the field. The course covers the fundamentals of lifeguarding at a junior level, arming you with the knowledge you need in order to succeed as a lifeguard in the future. Read on to find out how this type of program is impacting the industry!

American Red Cross Junior Lifeguard Programs

It all began as a program called GuardStart: Lifeguarding Tomorrow. The program, governed by The American Red Cross, aimed to provide lifeguard training for youth. Its name and some of its features have evolved, but the mission remains the same.

Today, it is a Junior Lifeguarding program that targets youth between the ages of 11 and 14. The course provides preteens a sneak peak at the industry. Kids can decide if it’s something that interests them while gaining relevant life skills and knowledge about saving lives.


Everyone is encouraged to get involved in this program. Aside from teaching preteens pertinent lifeguarding skills, the program reinforces principles of water safety. There are no stipulations on who can enroll in the program. The only pass-fail piece to this program is that all participants
satisfy the following requirements prior to enrolling:

  • Swim the front crawl for 25 yards continuously while breathing to the front or side
  • Swim the breaststroke for 25 yards using a pull, breathe, kick and glide sequence
  • Tread water for 1 minute using arms and legs
  • Show a level of comfort on the back by floating on the back for 30 seconds or swimming on the back for 25 yards using the elementary backstroke or back crawl
  • Submerge and swim a distance of 10 feet under water.

What to expect

The program must be taught by an experienced lifeguard who is accompanied by either a Red Cross-certified Lifeguarding Instructor or Water Safety Instructor. The course is 30 hours long, broken up into 15 lessons that last roughly 2 hours each with one additional 45-minute
precourse session.

You can expect a focus on developing swimming skills in this program, as it prepares participants for the swimming requirement for the Lifeguarding certificate. In the remainder of your 30 hours of training, you’ll learn lifesaving skills. Among these are first aid, CPR, AED training and the basics of in-water rescues.

The goal of this class is to prepare you for the Lifeguarding course and certification process. Everything that is taught in the Junior Lifeguarding program is a microcosm of the Lifeguarding program, and it will prepare you as a swimmer, lifesaver, and future lifeguard.

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