Wilderness Swim Safety

Wilderness Swim Safety is the appropriate water safety training for travel and program trip leaders, with a focus on prevention, surveillance, and rescue skills.

The Wilderness Swim Safety program (formerly Wilderness Lifeguard) is a 16+ hour training in open water safety and rescue.  Since 2000, we have served the outdoor industry with Wilderness Lifeguard. This next evolution will enhance alignment with national standards for prevention, surveillance and rescue for backcountry water safety and travel programs.  Wilderness First Aid and Adult, Child, AED CPR certifications are required for valid Wilderness Swim Safety certification.

Course Outline

WSS Schedule 2024

Packing List

For successful completion of the course students should each come prepared with the required equipment. Unprepared students may not be able to participate in the course.

Dress appropriately for the weather. On course, the air temp may be 80°F, water temp may be 60°F, and then the wind may blow about 5 mph across our open water front. Can you say “Lowering of your core body temperature”?! So, plan ahead and prepare because we will spend more than half of our time in the water. Course work will continue unless the weather is hazardous. It is your responsibility to bring warm synthetic layers to wear in the water!

WSS Gear List – print file

General Information

Course Length

Total 16+ hrs: Online platform 6+ hrs, Orientation 2+ hrs and Skills Check Day 8+ hrs


  • Minimum 18 years of age
  • Current certification in Wilderness First Aid (Min. 16 hr curriculum) and Adult/Child+AED CPR
  • Swim ability that allows you to:
    • Able to swim continuously for 100 yards with progressive forward motion
    • Able to tread water continuously for three minutes
    • Able to retrieve a 10-lb weight from a depth of 6 feet

Certifications Received

Landmark Learning Wilderness Swim Safety, 2-yr certification.

*Certification is valid when accompanied by Wilderness First Aid and Adult/Child+AED CPR certifications. These certifications may be acquired before or after completion of the Wilderness Swim Safety course.

Course Expectations

Attendance & Participation: Students are required to attend all class sessions and field exercises. Students may request no more than 10% of the course hours of excused absence, and may not miss the first day of the course. Review of missed curriculum or examinations is the student’s responsibility. Absences, either unexcused or exceeding 10% of the course hours excused, are grounds for dismissal from the course and cancellation policies will apply.

  • 100% pass on the quizzes within the online platform are required
  • 70% pass on the final written exam is required
  • Successful practical exam required
  • Special accommodations for testing are available, however we need to know prior to your arrival.
Textbook/ Handbook: Wilderness Swim Safety Manual, 2024, Justin S Padgett