Outdoor Education (Swimming)
Lakes, Ponds, Rivers at recreational camps, Public swimming areas, Non-designated swim areas
Elementary - Curricular 2019
- Consult Risk Management.
- This activity page must be presented to the activity provider prior to the activity taking place. The activity provider must meet the minimum requirements listed on this page. For more information on planning trips using outside providers, consult Outside Activity Providers.
- Governed by Ontario Regulation 503/17. All pools are governed by the Ontario Public Pools Regulation 565. Sections of these regulations have been highlighted, as they are of the utmost importance for the safety of students as they participate in swimming programs.
- Also consult Outdoor Education (General Procedures).
- Person in charge of the waterfront area (for example, lifeguard) must have a whistle or other signalling device.
- Correctly fitting and Transport Canada approved personal flotation device (P.F.D.)/lifejacket must be worn by identified non-swimmers.
- For recreational camps, accessibility to standard safety equipment, as stated in Regulation 503/17:
- one or more buoyant rescue aids attached to a shoulder loop with a 6mm (0.25”) line at least 1.6m (5’3”) in length
- one or more reaching poles of 3.6m (12’) or greater in length
- one or more buoyant throwing aids attached to a 6mm (0.25”) line at least 8m (26’5”) in length
- spinal board
- paddleboard or boat, when any part of the swimming area is more than 50m meters from the shore
- blankets and pillows.
- Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn. Determine that all necessary clothing (including attire appropriate for swimming) and footwear are included prior to departing on the excursion.
- Swimming area must be:
- clearly defined (for example, at camps buoyed area);
- free from hazards; and
- of suitable water temperature.
- No swimming in fast moving rivers or streams, or near other hazards such as drains, dams or boating areas.
- Prior to swimming, teacher must check with local authorities to determine whether water is safe for swimming (for example, location and water quality, away from fast-moving water).
- When swimming in areas not specifically designated for swimming (for example, campsite when on a canoe trip), lifeguard must set boundaries using boundary markers for swimming and swim/check the allocated swimming area for underwater hazards.
- Teacher and trip guide/instructor/lifeguard (as appropriate) must:
- be aware of and respond to changing weather and water conditions prior to and during the excursion; and
- cancel, postpone or alter the excursion if conditions put students’ safety at an elevated level of risk (for example, wind, temperature, lightning storms, fog).
- Do not swim if there are any indications of inclement weather (for example, lightning, high winds). If inclement weather suddenly approaches, leave the water immediately. Prior to allowing students back into the water, there must be a 30-minute lapse from the last visual observation of lightning or sound of thunder. If possible, consult local weather radar predictions and Canadian lightning danger maps.
- Inform in-charge person of any student with a medical history or any medical problems that may affect the student’s safety in water (for example, diabetes, asthma, heart condition, convulsions, epilepsy, frequent ear infections).
- Students must swim with a partner.
- A bather-counting system must be used at regular intervals (for example, numbers students, blow whistle and have them count off). Use this counting procedure at the beginning, every 15 minutes and as the students exit the water.
- Duration of swim must depend on:
- the capability of swimmers;
- the weather conditions;
- the conditions of water; and
- the time of day.
- When using an outside provider, diving is only permitted where there is sufficient water depth (2.75m [9’] minimum) and safe water conditions as determined by the outside provider. When not using an outside provider (i.e. using non-commercial areas), diving is not permitted.
- No swimming after sunset or before sunrise.
- No distance swims.
- Swim only in designated area.
- Students must not retrieve water toys that go outside designated swim area.
- Instructional swim may include organized games, relays etc., but CANNOT include an unorganized free swim.
- Students must be made aware of all rules and regulations associated with the swimming area.
- Students must be informed of acceptable standards of behaviour.
- Lifeguards must be readily identifiable to all swimmers at all times.
- In a water emergency situation, the lifeguard is in charge. Where emergency situation extends beyond the water, accessing emergency medical services or emergency transportation from the site, the teacher in charge of the trip in consultation with lifeguard and where appropriate trip guides are to determine an action plan in accordance with school board procedures.
- An emergency action plan must be in place and communicated to all trip guides, instructors and teachers.
- Students must practice simulated emergency situations (for example, find partner, assemble on shore with 3 loud whistle blasts).
- On-site supervision is required.
- Teachers must accompany students to the swimming area and be present at the swimming area or in the water during the activity.
Supervision Ratios for Instructional Time
Supervision Ratio for Recreational Time
- For every student increment up to 25, an additional certified lifeguard is required.
- Despite the supervision required, the lifeguard (at a recreational camp) shall ensure that, where non-swimmers, persons with special needs, or those under five years of age using the waterfront area in the camp, additional supervision is provided that, in the opinion of the operator, is adequate having regard to the characteristics and number of children using the waterfront area. R.R.O. 2018, Reg. 503/17, s. 24 (3).
- In addition to the lifeguards, there must be at least one adult with knowledge of aquatic emergency procedures (for example, location of first aid kit and phone; emergency action plan).
Aquatic Instructor Qualifications
- At least one aquatic instructor, lifeguard, or assistant lifeguard must have a minimum of a current (not more than three years prior to the day on which the holder is on duty) first aid certificate (standard or higher) issued by one of the following agencies: St. John Ambulance; Canadian Red Cross; Lifesaving Society; Canadian Ski Patrol; or an organization whose certificate is deemed equivalent by the medical officer of health in the local health unit.
Swim Test for Shallow and Deep Water
- Students who pass the swim test wearing a PFD must wear a PFD (a lifejacket is recommended) when on a dock or when at a shoreline where the depth of the water is deemed a risk.
Aquatic Instructor Qualifications for the Swim Test for Shallow and Deep Water
Lifeguard Qualifications for the Swim Test for Shallow and Deep Water
Supervision Ratios for the Swim Test for Shallow and Deep Water
Pool Swim Test
Waterfront Swim Test
Sun, 08/25/19 09:32 pm