The Distinction award encourages a maturity of response to demanding aquatic emergency situations. It is designed to develop advanced water rescue skill and knowledge, and an understanding of the principles of fitness training. Distinction challenges include the implications of assuming responsibility in an emergency, how to deal with two victims at once, and rescue of a non-breathing spinal-injured victim. As indicated in the name of the award, lifesavers must perform every item with distinction.

Prerequisites: Bronze Cross.

Evaluation: Items marked with an asterisk (*) are instructor-evaluated in those provinces/territories where examination by an examiner is compulsory. Examiners may evaluate any or all of these items at their discretion.

Test items:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of:
    • The implications of assuming responsibility in an emergency.
    • The implications of an unsuccessful rescue scene.
    • Types of spinal injuries and their implications.
    • Drowning patterns or trends, and common aquatic incidents.
    • Factors affecting the choice of water rescue emergency procedures.
    • The effects of panic and stress upon a rescuer, victim or bystander in an aquatic emergency, and the implications for the rescuer’s decisions.
    • Components of physical fitness and basic principles of training.
  2. Demonstrate the following:
    1. Recovery of a non-breathing victim (clothed in a shirt, pants and shoes) submerged in deep water.
      • Initiating rescue breathing using a buoyant aid for support, while travelling 25 m.
      • With no aid for support, travelling 25 m to a point of safety and initiating rescue breathing.
    2. A technique for the movement of two victims to the nearest point of safety.
    3. A carry (25 m) for two victims simultaneously.
    4. Organizing and demonstrating a search procedure or pattern, for one trained lifesaver, that is appropriate for the circumstances described by the evaluator.
    5. Recovering and immobilizing a breathing, spinal-injured victim, in deep water, and returning to the nearest point of safety.
  3. Demonstrate a 100 m head-up approach to contact a passive victim (clothed in a shirt, pants and shoes) at the surface.
  4. Carry the victim 100 m to safety. Complete the entire test item in the following time limit: 200 m in 8 minutes.
  5. Select and demonstrate ONE aquatic activity that will do each of the following:
    1. Place your heart rate within your personal target zone.
    2. Improve muscular strength, power or endurance.
  6. Perform a rescue of a non-breathing, spinal-injured victim. Recruit trained bystanders and prepare the victim for transport. Simulate a situation that is designed to emphasize immobilization, stabilization and shallow water removal.
  7. Perform two rescues where the victim is suffering from any one of the following conditions, or a combination of them:
    • Pulselessness
    • Asphyxia
    • Injury
    • Some other medical emergency such as hyperventilation, major bleeding, heart attack, stroke, a heat-related problem or a long bone fracture.
  8. Demonstrate swimming skills through the following exercises:
    1. Swim each of the following:
      • 50 m legs-only
      • 50 m front crawl
      • 50 m back crawl
      • 50 m breaststroke
    2. Swim continuously 700 m in 14 minutes, using any combination of strokes.