Pool or Open Water Activities

Open Water activities include those that involve swimming in a lake or ocean. In addition to the considerations for All Physical Activities, the following should be considered for Pool-based Activities: 

Supervision for Pool or Open Water Activities

  • Constant visual supervision during the entire activity by a certified NLS
    lifeguard is recommended.
  • At least one supervisor must have a current certification, e.g., National Lifeguard Services (NLS) Lifeguard – Waterfront Option Certification or NLS – Pool Option with two years waterfront experience. 
  • The designated lifeguard must be familiar with the pool or open water location being used and the appropriate procedures for the location. 
  • Teacher should accompany students on deck during activity. 
  • Teachers should discuss with the lifeguard what the teacher’s role is during an emergency. 
  • Students must ask permission to leave the pool, the immediate shore area or the change facilities. 
  • Student to lifeguard ratio is specific to each facility or open water location. For pools, this ratio is based on the Lifesaving Society – Public Aquatic Facility Safety Standards. Consult with facility to determine their requirements. 
  • For open water locations that do not have a defined student to lifeguard ratio, the ratio should be determined through consultation between the teacher and the lifeguard. 
  • Change facilities should be closely and frequently monitored.
  • Local swim area  guidelines/rules should be followed. 
  • When using pools or other water with no lifeguard for recreational swimming (e.g., hotel pools during a ski trip or lake during outdoor education trips) swimming should be done only during designated times with adequate adult supervision. Instructional Considerations for Pool or Open Water Activities 
  • Prior to giving students access to deep water (above chest height) or where a current exists that may pull students into deep water, students must be able to meet the Swim to Survive Standard, a sequence of three skills: roll into deep water, tread water for 1 minute and swim 50 m. 
  • A properly fitted lifejacket/PFD should be used to support weak or non-swimmers in water deeper than chest height or where a current exists that could pull student into deeper water. 
  • Initial screening/testing of swimming skills should be done in shallow water with no current.
  • Parents/guardians must be informed when students will be going off school board property to go to a pool or open water location. 
  • Teacher/instructor and in-charge person on shore should be informed of students with medical problems that may affect their safety in the water. 
  • Emergency procedures should be outlined to students prior to entering the water. 
  • Prolonged breath holding games should not be allowed.
  • Showers should be taken before entering water 
  • Students with infected cuts or sores should not enter pool. 
  • Rules of municipal/local pool or swim area must be adhered to and students should be informed of and adhere to rules such as: 
    • No running or pushing on pool deck
    • No gum chewing
    • No food in pool area
    • No glass around pool or on beach
    • Stay clear of diving area
    • No diving in shallow water
    • No horseplay
    • No outdoor shoes on pool deck
    • Entry into water less than 2.5 m deep must be feet first.
  • These rules will change from location to location.


Equipment/Facilities for Pool or Open Water Activities

  • When using an outdoor pool or open water location, weather conditions must be stable and free of threat of thunderstorms.

For Pool or Open Water Activities:

  • School or community pools should be used. Backyard pools must not be used. 
  •  Pool deck should be clear of obstacles and clear of excess water. 
  • Electrical equipment should be properly grounded (GFI). 
  • Standard safety equipment should be available as stated in the pool regulations, e.g., ring buoys, reaching poles and spinal boards.

For Open Water Activities:

  • Use of a municipally or otherwise designated swimming waterfront is recommended. If using another location refer to the Waterfront Safety Standards available at
  • Teacher should ensure the following items are accessible:
    • Whistle or other signaling device 
    • Buoyant throw line 
    • Reaching assists 
    • Spinal board 
    • Blanket 
    • Salt 
    • Rescue boat/craft.
  • Teacher should ensure that the waterfront area is: 
    • Clearly marked 
    • Free from hazards 
    • Roped off with floating markers 
    • Of suitable water temperature 
    • Water is reasonably clean and clear.


Last revised on 16 February, 2024.