|Author||Boy Scouts of America|
How to Use This Pamphlet
The secret to successfully earning a merit badge is for you to use both
the pamphlet and the suggestions of your counselor.
Your counselor can be as important to you as a coach is to an athlete.
Use all of the resources your counselor can make available to you.
This may be the best chance you will have to learn about this particular
subject. Make it count.
If you or your counselor feels that any information in this pamphlet is
incorrect, please let us know. Please state your source of information.
Merit badge pamphlets are reprinted annually and requirements
updated regularly. Your suggestions for improvement are welcome.
Send comments along with a brief statement about yourself to Youth
Development, S209 • Boy Scouts of America • 1325 West Walnut Hill
Lane • P.O. Box 152079 • Irving, TX 75015-2079.
Who Pays for This Pamphlet?
This merit badge pamphlet is one in a series of more than 100 covering
all kinds of hobby and career subjects. It is made available for you
to buy as a service of the national and local councils, Boy Scouts of
America. The costs of the development, writing, and editing of the
merit badge pamphlets are paid for by the Boy Scouts of America in
order to bring you the best book at a reasonable price.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
MERIT BADGE SERIES
Note to the Counselor
Like other merit badges, the Swimming merit badge has been
developed to teach and train youth in a manner consistent with
the overall goals and values of the Boy Scouts of America. The
merit badge counselor should be fair and consistent and should
present and teach the skills as presented in this pamphlet. None
of the requirements should be omitted, and nothing should be
added to them.
Candidates with an extensive swimming background may
be able to meet all or most of the requirements with little or no
formal instruction from the counselor. Most Scouts, however,
will need instruction prior to completing the requirements.
Scouts may train as a single buddy pair or in small groups.
Training sessions can be on a flexible schedule. Alternatively,
larger groups may train together on a more formal basis at
prearranged times. A counselor may also provide individual
instruction as long as there is another adult or youth present.
Subject to equipment availability and other constraints, each
candidate should have the opportunity to choose which of the
optional requirements he will complete. The “Aquatics” section
of Camp Program and Property Management provides a suggested outline for Swimming merit badge instruction.
The merit badge instruction should begin with a review of
requirement 3. This will lay a suitable foundation for safety and
first aid requirements 1 and 2. This review also will indicate individual levels of skill proficiency in various strokes, floating, and
feetfirst entry. Scouts should learn the leaping entry in the first
session. The leaping entry, the preferred entry for the swim tests
used in the Second and First Class rank requirements, should
be taught and emphasized in the first session as a safety skill to
be used throughout the class. The faceup float (requirement 6a)
©2008 Boy Scouts of America
also should be taught in the First Class session as a confidence
builder and as a resting and survival procedure for use during
the class and beyond.
Stroke instruction should begin in the first session and
continue throughout the course. Base individualized instruction
on the proficiency of each participant. Each participant may
be given the opportunity to complete the stroke requirement
(requirement 5) when he appears ready.
Regarding other requirements, Scouts should first master surface dives (requirement 7) before beginning snorkeling and scuba
diving (requirement 8a). They should receive diving instruction
(requirement 9) prior to competitive skills instruction (requirement 8b). Survival skills and knowledge (requirements 4, 6b, 6c,
and 6d) can be covered at any time, because they relate closely to
the safety and preliminary skills in requirements 1 and 3.
If Scouts complete requirement 10 concurrently with in-water
skills instruction, then the pertinent information should be
presented early enough in the course to allow time for Scouts
to study and prepare individual exercise program plans.
Requirement 10c must be completed in writing. Requirements
10a, 10b, and 10d may be done orally, but Scouts should not
simply listen to a presentation from the counselor. Each merit
badge candidate must learn the material and demonstrate that
knowledge by explaining the facts or concepts to his counselor.
REQUIREMENTS (Starting 1/1/2015)
1.Do the following:
1. Discuss the prevention of and treatment for health concerns
a.Explain to your counselor how Scouting’s Safe Swim Defense plan
that could occur while swimming, including hypothermia,
anticipates, helps prevent and mitigate, and provides responses to likely hazards
heat exhaustion, heatstroke, muscle
you may encounterdehydration,
b.Discuss the prevention and treatment of health
dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion,
hyperventilation, spinal injury, stings and bites, and
cuts and scrapes.
a. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing
on a person.successfully
2.Before doing the following
the BSA swimmer
test: Jump feetfirst into water
the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards
in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke,
b. Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using
trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke. The 100
a training device approved by your counselor.
yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one
sharp turn. After completing
rest by floating.
3. Before doing
complete Second Class rank requirements 7a–7c and
3.Swim continuously forFirst
strokes in good form and in a
strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke
for 25 yards, breaststroke
elementary backstroke for 50 yards.
(7a) Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.
4.Do the following:
a. Demonstrate water
with a suitable object, and
25 feet on
rescues should not be attempted
and explain why and howswimming,
a rescue swimmer
with the victim.
b.With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as
(7c) Demonstrate water rescue methods by reaching
rescuer. The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in
with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable
object, and by throwing lines and objects. Explain
why swimming rescues should not be attempted
5.Do the following:
rescue is possible, and
a. Float faceup in a resting when
for at least
a rescue swimmer should
b. Demonstrate survival floating
c. While wearing a properlyavoid
demonstrate the HELP and huddle positions. Explain their purposes.
d. Explain why swimming or survival floating will hasten the onset of hypothermia
in cold water.
6.In water over your head, but not to exceed 10 feet, do each of the following:
a. Use the feetfirst method of surface diving and bring an object up from the bottom.
b. Do a headfirst surface dive (pike or tuck), and bring the object up again.
c. Do a headfirst surface dive to a depth of at least 5 feet and swim underwater for
to the surface, take a breath, and repeat the sequence twice.
(9a) Tell what precautions must be taken for a
7. Following the
set in the BSA Safe Swim Defense, in water at least 7 feet
deep*, show a standing headfirst dive from a dock or pool deck. Show a long shallow
*If your state,
city, or local
depth greater than 7 feet,
it is important
over your head in depth,
swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more
and discuss why swimming
is favored as both fitness and therapeutic exercise.
trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy,
resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum
continuously and include at least one sharp turn.
rest by floating.
With a helper
concerns that could occur while
a line rescue
both as tender
and as sunburn,
rescuer. heat exhaustion, heatstroke,
practice victim should
stings and bites, and cuts and scrapes.
30 feet from shore in deep water.
2. Do the following:
a. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Explain how
4. Demonstrate survival skills by jumping feetfirst into deep
to recognize such conditions.
water wearing clothes (shoes, socks, swim trunks, long
b. Demonstrate proper technique for performing CPR using a training device approved by
belt, and long-sleeved shirt). Remove shoes and
socks, inflate the shirt, and show that you can float using
Remove and inflate
SwimSecond Class rank
50 feet using
then show how
9a through 9c.
to reinflate the pants while still afloat.
Second Class rank requirements 8a through 8c:
5. Swim continuously for 150 yards using the following
(8a) Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.
strokes in good
in a strong
back 25 feet on
for 25 yards,
return to your
rescue methods by reaching
with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable
6. Do the following:
object, and by throwing lines and objects.
in a resting
a reaching or throwing rescue
is possible, and explain why and how a rescue
b. Demonstrate survival floating for at least
swimmer should avoid contact with the victim.
requirements 9a through 9c:
a safe trip
wearing a must
flotation device (PFD), demonstrate the HELP
complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feetfirst into
over your head in depth, swim 75 yards in a strong
breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke.
The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn.
After completing the swim, rest by floating.
(9c) With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as rescuer.
The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in deep water.
4. Demonstrate survival 7.
socks, swim trunks, longthe
belt, and long-sleeved shirt). Remove shoes and socks,
inflate the shirt, and show
the pants. Swim 50 feet using
for support, then show how to reinflate the
pants while still afloat.
b. Do a headfirst surface dive (pike or tuck), and bring
5. Swim continuously for 150 yards
following strokes in good form and in a strong
manner: front crawl or trudgen
c. Do a headfirst surface
least 5 feet
and swim underwater for three strokes. Come to the
6. Do the following:
surface, take a breath, and repeat the sequence twice.
a. Float faceup in a resting position for at least one minute.
b. Demonstrate survival
c. While wearing a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD), demonstrate the
a. Demonstrate snorkeling and scuba diving knowledge:
HELP and huddle positions. Explain their purposes.
7. In water over your head, but not to exceed 10
of mask, snorkel,
feet, do each
a. Use the feetfirst method of and
(3) Describe the sport of scuba diving or snorkelb. and
dive (pike or
object up relating
again. to that sport.
c. Do a headfirst surface dive to a depth of at
least 5 feet and swim underwater for three
Come to theswimming
b. Demonstrate the following
and repeat the sequence twice.
(1) Racing dive from a pool edge or dock edge
(no elevated dives from racing platforms or
8. Do ONE of the following:
a. Demonstrate snorkeling and scuba diving knowledge:
for 25 yards
1. Demonstrate selection
both pool and
(front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, or butterfly)
2. Demonstrate proper use of mask, snorkel, and fins for underwater search and rescue.
(3) Racing turns for the stroke that you chose in 8b(2),
3. Describe the sport of scuba diving or snorkeling, and demonstrate your knowledge of
if the to
BSA policies and proceduresOR,
sport. cannot accommodate the
racing turn, repeat 8b(2) with an additional stroke.
(4) Describe the sport of competitive swimming.
9. Following the guidelines set in the BSA Safe Swim Defense, in water at least 7 feet deep,
show a standing headfirst dive from a dock or pool deck. Show a long shallow dive, also
from the dock or pool deck.
9. Following the guidelines set in the BSA Safe Swim Defense,
in water at least 7 feet deep, show a standing headfirst dive
from a dock or pool deck. Show a long shallow dive, also
10. Do the following:
from the dock or pool deck.
a. Explain the health benefits of regular aerobic exercise, and explain why
today do not get enough of the beneficial kinds of exercise.
and a therapeutic exercise.
the health is
c. Write a plan for a swimming exercise program that will promote aerobic/vascular
and explain why many people today do not get enough
fitness, strength and muscle tone, body flexibility, and weight control for a person
kinds of exercise.
and facilities available in your home community
b. Discuss why swimming
as both a fitness and
with your counselor
exercise. the incentives and obstacles for staying with the
fitness program you identified in requirement 10c. Explain the unique benefits
awareness and self-discipline would relate to your own
willingness and ability
program. and weight control for a person
of Scout age. Identify resources and facilities available
in your home community that would be needed for
such a program.
d. Discuss with your counselor the incentives and obstacles
for staying with the fitness program you identified in
requirement 10c. Explain the unique benefits that could
be gained from this program, and discuss how personal
health awareness and self-discipline would relate to your
own willingness and ability to pursue such a program.
Safety. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Swimming Skills. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Swimming Strokes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Surface Dives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Snorkeling and Scuba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Diving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Competitive Swimming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Swimming for Fitness and Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Swimming Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Developed more than 60 years ago, the procedures included in
the Boy Scouts of America’s water safety plan have earned
Scouting what is believed to be the most commendable water
safety record of any youth organization in the United States.
BSA Safe Swim Defense
All swimming activity in Scouting is conducted according to
Safe Swim Defense standards. The eight points of Safe Swim
Defense are as follows.
1. Qualified Supervision
All swimming activity must be supervised by a
mature and conscientious adult age 21 or
older who understands and knowingly
accepts responsibility for the well-being
and safety of those in his or her care,
and who is trained in and committed
to compliance with the eight points
of BSA Safe Swim Defense. It is
strongly recommended that all units
have at least one adult or older
youth member currently trained in
BSA Swimming and Water Rescue
or BSA Lifeguard to assist in the
planning and conduct of all
2. Personal Health Review
A complete health history is required of all participants as evidence of fitness for swimming activities.
Forms for minors must be signed by a parent or
legal guardian. Participants should be asked to relate
any recent incidents of illness or injury just prior to the
activity. Supervision and protection should be adjusted to
anticipate any potential risks associated with individual
health conditions. For significant health conditions, the
adult supervisor should require an examination by a physician and consult with the parent, guardian, or caregiver
for appropriate precautions.
3. Safe Area
All swimming areas must be carefully inspected and prepared for safety prior to each activity. Water depth, quality,
temperature, movement, and clarity are important considerations. Hazards must be eliminated or isolated by conspicuous markings and discussed with participants.
Controlled access. There must be safe areas for all participating
ability groups to enter and leave the water. Swimming areas of
appropriate depth must be defined for each ability group. The
entire area must be within easy reach of designated rescue
personnel. The area must be clear of boat traffic, surfing,
or other nonswimming activities.
Safe areas are
best inspected as
a team so hazards
can be identified
Bottom conditions and depth: The bottom must be clear of
trees and debris. Abrupt changes in depth are not allowed in
the nonswimmer area. Isolated underwater hazards should be
marked with floats. Rescue personnel must be able to easily
reach the bottom. Maximum recommended water depth in clear
water is 12 feet. Maximum water depth in turbid water is 8 feet.
Visibility. Underwater swimming and diving are prohibited in
turbid water. Turbid water exists when a swimmer treading
water cannot see his feet. Swimming at night is allowed only
in areas with both surface and underwater lighting.
Diving and elevated entry. Diving is permitted only into clear,
unobstructed water from heights no greater than 40 inches.
Water depth must be at least 7 feet for dives from fixed heights
up to 18 inches and at least 10 feet for dives from the side or a
diving board for heights from 18 inches to 40 inches. Persons
should not jump into water from heights greater than they are
tall, and only into water depths where impact with the bottom
is absent or slight. No elevated entry is permitted where the
person must clear any obstacle, including land.
Water temperature. Comfortable water temperature for swimming is near 80 degrees. Activity in water at 70 degrees or less
should be of limited duration and closely monitored for
negative effects of chilling.
Water quality. Bodies of stagnant, fetid water, areas with significant algae or foam, or areas polluted by livestock or waterfowl
should be avoided. Comply with any signs posted by local health
authorities. Swimming is not allowed in pools with green, murky,
or cloudy water.
Moving water. Participants should be able to easily regain and
maintain their footing in currents or waves. Areas with large
waves, swiftly flowing currents, or moderate currents that flow
toward the open sea or into areas of danger should be avoided.
Weather. Participants should be moved from the water to a
position of safety whenever lightning or thunder threatens.
Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder
before leaving shelter. Take precautions to prevent sunburn,
dehydration, and hypothermia.
PFD use. Swimming in clear water over 12 feet deep, in turbid
water over 8 feet deep, or in flowing water may be allowed if all
participants wear properly fitted personal flotation devices and
the supervisor determines that swimming with PFDs is safe
under the circumstances.
4. Response Personnel (Lifeguards)
Every swimming activity must be closely and continuously
monitored by a trained rescue team on the alert for and
ready to respond during emergencies. Professionally trained
lifeguards satisfy this need when provided by a regulated facility
or tour operator. When lifeguards are not provided by others, the
adult supervisor must assign at least two rescue personnel, with
additional numbers to maintain a ratio to
participants of 1:10. The supervisor must
provide instruction and rescue equipment
and assign areas of responsibility as
outlined in the BSA publication Aquatics
Supervision. The qualified supervisor, the
designated response personnel, and the
lookout work together as a safety team.
A simple emergency action plan should
be formulated by the safety team and
shared with participants as appropriate.
The lookout continuously monitors the conduct of the
swim, identifies any departures from Safe Swim Defense
guidelines, alerts response personnel as needed, and
monitors the weather and environment. The lookout should have a clear view of the entire area
but be close enough for easy verbal
communication. The lookout must
have a sound understanding of
Safe Swim Defense but is not
required to perform rescues.
The adult supervisor may
serve simultaneously as the
lookout but must assign the
task to someone else if
engaged in activities that
preclude focused observation.
6. Ability Groups
All youth and adult participants are designated as swimmers, beginners, or nonswimmers based on swimming
ability confirmed by standardized BSA swim classification
tests. Each group is assigned a specific swimming area with
depths consistent with those abilities. The classification tests
should be renewed annually, preferably at the beginning of
Swimmers pass this test: Jump feetfirst into water over the
head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner
using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy
resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one
swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn.
After completing the swim, rest by floating.
Beginners pass this test: Jump feetfirst into water over the
head in depth, level off, and swim 25 feet on the surface. Stop,
turn sharply, resume swimming, and return to the starting place.
Anyone who has not completed either the beginner or swimmer
tests is classified as a nonswimmer.
The nonswimmer area should be no more than waist to
chest deep and should be enclosed by physical boundaries such
as the shore, a pier, or lines. The enclosed beginner area should
contain water of standing depth and may extend to depths just
over the head. The swimmer area may be up to 12 feet in depth
in clear water and should be defined by floats or other markers.
7. Buddy System
Every participant is paired with
another participant. Buddies stay
together, monitor each other, and
alert the safety team if either needs
assistance or is missing.
Buddies check into and out of
the area together. Buddies are normally in the same ability group and
remain in their assigned area. If they
are not of the same ability group, then
they swim in the area assigned to the
buddy with the lesser ability.
Buddy checks indicate how closely the buddies are keeping
track of each other. Roughly every 10 minutes, or as needed to
keep the buddies together, the lookout, or other person designated by the supervisor, gives an audible signal, such as a single
whistle blast, and a call for “Buddies.” Buddies are expected
to raise each other’s hand before completion of a slow, audible
count to 10. Buddies who take longer to find each other should
be reminded of their responsibility for each other’s safety.
A buddy check also helps the safety team monitor everyone
in the water. If a buddy is missing, a search is begun immediately
in accordance with a prearranged emergency action plan. If everyone has a buddy, a count is made by area and compared with
the total number known to be in the water. Once the count is
confirmed, a signal is given to resume swimming.
Rules are effective only when followed. All participants
should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures for safe swimming provided by Safe Swim Defense
guidelines. Applicable rules should be discussed prior to
the outing and reviewed for all participants at the water’s
edge just before the swimming activity begins. People are
more likely to follow directions when they know the reasons
for rules and procedures. Consistent, impartially applied rules
supported by skill and good judgment provide stepping-stones
to a safe, enjoyable outing.
Pool and Surf Swimming
Safe Swim Defense applies to swimming at a beach,
private or public pool, wilderness pond, stream,
lake, or anywhere Scouts swim. Here are some
additional points for the pool and the surf.
Pool. If the swimming activity is in a public
facility where others are using the pool at
the same time and the pool operator provides guard personnel, there may be no
need for additional Scout lifeguards and
lookouts. However, there must always be
an adult supervisor who understands his or
her responsibility and ensures that the elements of Safe Swim Defense are followed. The
buddy system is also critically important, even
in a public pool. Even in a crowd, you are alone
without protection if no one is paying attention to
The rule that people swim only in water depths suited
to their ability also applies at pools. Most public pools divide
shallow and deep water. This may be enough for defining
appropriate swimming areas. If not, the supervisor should
clearly point out to participants the appropriate areas of the
Surf. The surf environment—with its wave action, currents,
tides, backwash, and sea life such as stinging jellyfish—requires
precautions for safe swimming that aren’t necessary in other
environments. A swimmer’s physical condition and skill are
very important and should enable the swimmer to recover
footing in waves, swim for long periods without getting
worn out, and remain calm and in control when faced with
Designated swimming areas are marked by flags or pennants
that are easy to see. Beginners and nonswimmers should be
positioned inshore from standing lifeguards who are equipped
with rescue equipment. Better swimmers are permitted seaward
of the lifeguards but must remain shoreward of anchored marker
buoys. The lifeguard-to-swimmer ratio should always be 1-to-10
with a rescue team supplied with a rescue tube or other flotation aid stationed at the beach area.
Unless your unit
is probably best
to swim at a
The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that most rescues—
about 80 percent—at surf beaches involve swimmers caught in rip currents.
More than 100 swimmers die each year from this swimming hazard. Rip
currents are long, narrow sections of water that form after waves break and
the water goes back out. Rip currents form a funnel of current that moves
much faster than the current on either side. The current can be so strong
that it may be difficult or impossible to swim against it. It can carry an
unsuspecting swimmer long distances from shore and even out to sea.
Rip currents occur in oceans and any place where there are waves,
including bodies of water such as the Great Lakes. To avoid getting caught
in a rip current, do not swim near piers or jetties (walls built out into the
water to protect a harbor or beach). Rip currents are often hard to see, but
look for the following clues:
• An area having a noticeable difference in water color
• A channel of churning, choppy water
• A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily away from shore
• A break in the incoming wave pattern
If you are caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by swimming toward
the beach. Instead,
turn and escape by
to the shore. If that
doesn’t work, float or
tread water. Call or
wave for help.
Author Boy Scouts of America Isbn 9780839533528 File size 6.18MB Year 2010 Pages 94 Language English File format PDF Category Sport Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Merit Badge Pamphlets: An official Boy Scout merit badge pamphlet has been created for the BSA by topic authorities for each merit badge. The pamphlets contain requirements, introductory information and supplemental reference text. A scout can purchase pamphlets from BSA, find them in a troop library, or often-times check them out from a public library. There is also a Requirements Booklet with a merit badge list for quick reference. Each merit badge has a pamphlet that outlines the badge’s fulfillment requirements. While a scout does not need to have a pamphlet to earn a badge, the pamphlet suggests activities and demonstrations to help the scout earn a badge. Counselors use pamphlets to learn a scout’s requirements and create projects that are not listed in the pamphlet. Download (6.18MB) Small-Boat Sailing Merit Badge Series Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Series Whitewater Merit Badge Series Water Sports Merit Badge Series Weather Merit Badge Series Load more posts