National Water Safety Programme Introduces New Open Water Module

25 Jul 2011

SwimSafer Programme Further Enhanced with Re-Certification Courses and Water Safety Workshops for Instructors
Singapore, 25 July 2011 - Parents now have the opportunity to ensure their children gain the necessary water safety knowledge and survival skills in open water through a new module, SwimSafer Open Water, launched by the National Water Safety Council (NWSC) and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) today.

2. The SwimSafer Open Water, which is a complementary module under the national water safety programme SwimSafer, equips not only children, but also adults, with skills in open water safety, including proper swimming techniques in open water and the correct fitting of a lifejacket.

3. The module also educates participants on the unique risks and dangers present in open water as compared to swimming in a pool - uneven surfaces, river currents, sea undertow and the effects of changing weather - which pose challenges even for the most experienced water sports enthusiasts.

4. Dr Teo Ho Pin, Chairman of the NWSC and Mayor of North West District, who officiated the launch of SwimSafer Open Water at East Coast Park today, commented, "With an average of about 65% of drowning cases in Singapore occurring in open water over the last five years , SwimSafer Open Water is a highly recommended modular option for both children and adults to learn open water survival skills, especially water sports enthusiasts who spend a great deal of their time in open water."

5. Participants of SwimSafer Open Water will undergo practical lessons in an open water environment under the close guidance of trained instructors, who have completed the SwimSafer Open Water Instructor Course and have at least obtained a Bronze Cross award in life saving.

6. The SSC will continue to reach out to students engaged in water sports co-circular activities and partner grassroots organisations to encourage community involvement in SwimSafer Open Water to promote active and safe participation in water sports.

7. To date, more than 50,000 participants have benefitted from the SwimSafer programme since it was rolled out in July 2010, with 170 out of 178 primary schools taking part this year.

SwimSafer Instructor Development Programme

8. NWSC and SSC have also introduced the SwimSafer Instructor Development Programme to further improve the quality of the SwimSafer programme and its instructors. More than 600 SwimSafer instructors will undergo periodic re-certification courses and water safety workshops to reacquaint themselves with the principles of SwimSafer, and to review the programme's existing concepts and skills. The courses and workshops also serve as platforms for instructors to share best practices and techniques in instruction.

9. Commenting on the importance of the Programme, Mrs Cory Gambardella, Deputy Director of the SwimSafer Programme at the SSC said, "Our instructors are an important asset of the SwimSafer programme. Through the SwimSafer Instructor Development Programme, we aim to enhance their mastery of the concepts and skills of the SwimSafer programme, thereby further improving the quality of the SwimSafer programme to benefit all participants."

10. "The SwimSafer re-certification course offers a useful recap of the concepts and skills of the SwimSafer programme for instructors like me. It also provides me a great opportunity to explore with other fellow instructors new ways of teaching our students about water safety," said Mr Garett Lee, a SwimSafer instructor with 15 years of coaching experience.

11. For more information on SwimSafer, the public can visit or contact the SSC SwimSafer Division via email at

[1] Based on statistics from the Singapore Life Saving Society's Annual Reports (from 2006 to 2010) for cases heard in the Coroner's Court


Annex A - Six Progressive Stages of the SwimSafer Programme

Stage 1: Introduction to Water Skills
The objective is for your child to gain confidence and develop independence in the water, as well as learn general and deep-end water safety. Techniques taught include forward and backward movement, entering and exiting the pool safely, and introduction to personal water survival skills.

Stage 2: Fundamental Water Skills
General skills development will include unassisted step entry into water, sculling, feet-first surface dives, personal water safety skills and water safety awareness in an aquatic environment. Your child will be encouraged to achieve 25 metres of continuous swim.

Stage 3: Personal Water Survival and Stroke Developmental Skills
Principles of personal water survival and basic rescue skills will be taught. Your child will demonstrate proficiency in sculling, underwater skills, and the use of a Personal Floatation Device. Your child will be encouraged to achieve 50 metres of continuous swim.

Bronze: Personal Water Survival and Stroke Improvement Skills

Development of your child's stroke techniques will be a focus here, along with coordinated breathing in deep water while swimming 100 metres. Principles of water craft safety will be introduced, as well as continual work on rescue and personal water survival skills.

Silver: Intermediate Personal Water Survival and Stroke Refinement Skills
Fundamental of diving will be introduced. Development of rescue skills and personal water survival skills also continue at more advanced levels. Your child will be required to demonstrate efficient stroke techniques to complete the Silver stage before progressing to the Gold stage.

Gold: Advanced Personal Water Survival and Swimming Skills Proficiency
Your child will be required to perform strokes with greater ease, efficiency, power and smoothness over 400 metres. Rescue skills and water safety knowledge will focus on lifesaving readiness. Standing dive and advanced personal water survival skills will continue to be taught.
Annex B - Curriculum Outline of SwimSafer Open Water Module

Entry and Exit

  • Performing wade-in entry

Scull and Body Orientation
  • Treading water for 3 minutes while signalling for help
  • Demonstrating HELP position with Personal Flotation Device

Underwater Skills
  • Swimming a distance of 3m underwater

  • Swimming 200m continuously using front crawl with heads up, breaststroke, survival backstroke and sidestroke
  • Putting on Personal Flotation Device, entering water safely, swimming 100m with chosen swim stroke, exiting water safely and removing Personal Flotation Device

Survival Skills
  • Performing various self-preservation skills in a continuous sequence while dressed in swimwear, long sleeve shirt and long pants

Rescue Skills
  • Performing an accompanied rescue of a person in distress 20m from safety by using a buoyant aid

Water Safety Knowledge
  • Answering theoretical questions on the open water environment, marine animals, and safety concerns and issue
Annex C - At a Glance: Comparison of SwimSafer Programme and SwimSafer Open Water Module

Name of Programme/Module

SwimSafer Programme

SwimSafer Open Water Module

Roll-Out Date

5 July 2010

25 July 2011


Course Description

SwimSafer is a national water safety programme that is aimed at imparting Singaporeans, especially children, with the necessary water safety knowledge and a wide range of water survival skills as a safeguard against drowning. SwimSafer lessons are taught in a closed pool environment.


SwimSafer is an amalgamated and improved version of the Learn-To-Swim Programme (LTSP) and the National Survival Swimming Award (NASSA), which allows students to learn basic swimming and survival skills concurrently.


SwimSafer Open Water Module is a complementary module under the SwimSafer programme.


SwimSafer Open Water is designed to equip participants with the necessary water safety knowledge and survival skills in open water.


The module is conducted in an open water environment to make the instructing of water safety as realistic as possible.

Course Duration / Number of Lessons

The SwimSafer programme has six progressive stages, each comprising 12 hours of lesson time. Survival and activity skills are taught in each stage of the programme, working progressively toward the next stage.


The SwimSafer Open Water module comprises 12 lessons focusing on basic swimming skills, water safety knowledge, as well as survival and activity skills in open water. Lessons are taught in a progressive manner, each comprising one hour of lesson time.


Eligibility for Participation

Generally recommended for children who are six (6) years and above


Children who have obtained the SwimSafer Bronze qualification, and are at least eight (8) years of age


Qualification of Instructors

Instructors must:

·       Have successfully completed the SwimSafer Instructor Course (SSIC)


·       Be a member of the National Registry Of Coaches (NROC)


·       Have obtained both certifications in the NCAP Theory conducted by the SSC and the NCAP Technical Course conducted by the Singapore Swimming Association


·       Be CPR and first-aid certified

Instructors must:

·       Have successfully completed the SwimSafer Instructor Course (SSIC)


·       Be a member of the National Registry Of Coaches (NROC)


·       Have obtained both certifications in the NCAP Theory conducted by the SSC and the NCAP Technical Course conducted by the Singapore Swimming Association


·       Be CPR and first-aid certified


·       Have obtained a Bronze Cross award


·       Have successfully completed the SwimSafer Open Water Instructor Course


Number of Instructors To Date



Lesson Venue(s)

·       SSC Swimming Complexes


·       Private pools & swimming clubs


·       Changi Beach


·       East Coast Park


Number of Participants To Date




For media enquiries, please contact:

Derrick Chee
Secretariat, National Water Safety Council
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports
DID: 6354 8246

Jemuel Fu
Executive, Media Relations
Singapore Sports Council
DID: 6500 5245

About SwimSafer
SwimSafer is a new national water safety programme initiated by the National Water Safety Council, in collaboration with the Singapore Sports Council. The six-stage progressive programme will help children of all ages and abilities develop water safety and swimming skills at their own pace through a positive, fun learning experience. SwimSafer is an improvement of the existing National Survival Swimming Award (NASSA) and Learn-To-Swim (LTS) Programme. For more information on the programme, please visit

Have Fun, Swim Safe.
About the National Water Safety Council, Singapore
The National Water Safety Council, Singapore (NWSC) was appointed by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) in 2007 to oversee water safety matters in Singapore. Helmed by Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mayor of North West Community Development Council and Honorary Advisor to the Singapore Life Saving Society, the NWSC is the national coordinating body in driving and sustaining initiatives overseeing water safety. The Council, appointed on a two-year term, comprises members from the people, private and public sectors. Prior to the SwimSafer, the NWSC had collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Singapore Sports Council to introduce the Learn-To-Swim Programme for primary school students. The Council recently launched the Code of Practice for the Design and Management of Aquatic Facilities with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to promote safe water facilities for the public.
About the Singapore Sports Council
Formed in 1973, the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is tasked with developing a holistic sports culture for the nation. The SSC creates opportunities for people to excel in sports; opportunities for people to be engaged in sports as, coaches, officials, volunteers or fans; and opportunities for people to do business in sports as sponsors and investors. The SSC has changed the way Singaporeans view and participate in sports. Through sports, we now have an enhanced national identity thanks to our sports participation programmes; greater national pride as a result of high performance results at international and regional games; and more diversified economic stability through our vibrant sports industry initiatives.

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