Personal Competence

Know Your Limits

Before heading into an open water environment it is important that you have a realistic assessment of your own competence.

Test your skill and comfort level in a safe environment such as a pool.

Practice all competencies including the following. Try them in swimwear, wearing clothes and with a lifejacket on.

Exiting the water safely

Entering and Exiting

Ensure you can enter and exit the water safely and effectively.
Test how far you can swim


How far can you swim without stopping?
Test the length of time you can swim continually


Time yourself for a set distance.
Practice floating


Make sure you practice floating with and without a flotation aid. Try with different types of lifejackets or improvised flotation such as buckets, balls, noodles or chilly-bins.
Practice retrieving objects


Check your level of confidence and ability submersing yourself underwater. Practice retrieving objects from the bottom to help check your submersion abilities.
Practice retrieving objects

Breath Control

Can you hold your breath to submerge? You may need to exhale some air to descend. Practise covering your mouth when entering cold water to ensure no water enters the lungs via a ‘gasp reflex’.
Bystander Rescue

You should also learn safe ways to rescue someone without putting yourself in danger.

Watch the video below for an overview of Bystander Rescue.

Also, complete our Bystander Rescue topic in the Youth and Young Adults e-learning module that covers this important skill.